Privilege or necessity? The working lives of people with multiple jobs
- 22 June 2020
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- A relatively small proportion of the EU workforce holds down a second job: 4% in 2018. This figure nevertheless represents 9.3 million workers. In addition, the phenomenon is on the rise – numbers have increased by 3.5% since 2013.
- A substantial proportion are low earners with short working hours who take up extra work to supplement their income. However, multiple job-holding is equally apparent in the higher earning brackets. In fact, a majority of multiple-job holders are in white collar, high-skilled occupations in their main job.
- When the data are broken down by gender, quite a different picture emerges. The top occupation for women is cleaners and helpers; personal care workers and sales workers also rank in the top five. For men, the top occupation is metal and machinery workers – jobs like mechanic and welder – but the top five also includes business professionals and science and engineering professionals.
- This gender disparity in occupation is accompanied by a striking difference in income. Most women (40%) are in the lowest income quintile, while the largest share of men (30%) is in the top quintile.
- A fair share of multiple job holding is associated with decent job quality, but more so for men than for women: half of male multiple-job holders (49%) have above-average job quality in their main jobs, compared to 35% of women in this group. However, among both sexes, around one-third have poor job quality.
Although a small proportion of the EU workforce holds down more than one job, it is worth understanding the phenomenon better, not only because it is growing by degrees, but also because of the impact it can have on workers’ health and well-being and what it can tell us about the labour market. While there can be positive facets to multiple-job holding – it can, for example, be a stepping stone for career development – it can also have undesirable consequences for workers’ physical and mental health if it entails very long working hours and poor work–life balance.
This policy brief examines the prevalence of multiple-job holding in the EU, its main characteristics and the job quality of the workers who do it. One of the main findings is that multiple-job holding is different for women and men, and also varies significantly with age and income.
ReportNumber of Pages:21Reference No:EF20006ISBN:978-92-897-2074-8Catalogue:TJ-AR-20-002-EN-NDOI:10.2806/162748Topics:Working time; Working conditions and sustainable work; Working conditions; Employment relationship; Job qualityCite this publication:Eurofound (2020), Privilege or necessity? The working lives of people with multiple jobs, European Working Conditions Survey 2015 series, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg.
Tables and graphs
- Table 1: Top five occupations of multiple-job holders in their main job, EU27 and the UK, 2015
- Figure 1: Female ratio of multiple-job holders (%), Member States and the UK, 2018
- Figure 2: Tertiary attainment among multiple-job holders and total working population (%), by sex, Member States and the UK, 2018
- Figure 3: Employment status of multiple-job holders in main and second jobs (%), by sex, EU27 and the UK, 2018
- Figure 4: Occupational profiles in main job of multiple-job holders, by sex, EU27 and the UK, 2018
- Figure 5: Multiple-job holders by income quintile and sex (%), EU27 and the UK, 2015
- Figure 6: Multiple-job holders by age group and income quintile (%), according to sex, EU27 and the UK, 2015
- Figure 7: Distribution of workers according to usual working hours of single-job holders and multiple-job holders (%), by sex, EU27 and the UK, 2015
- Figure 8: Average usual weekly working hours in main and second jobs and unpaid work, by sex, EU27 and the UK, 2005–2015
- Figure 9: Shares of multiple-job holders with higher-risk working time patterns (%), by income quintile and sex, EU27 and the UK, 2015
- Figure 10: Working in free time and presenteeism among multiple-job holders (%), by income quintile and sex, EU27 and the UK, 2015
- Figure 11: Job quality of multiple-job holders’ main job, by sex and income quintile, EU27 and the UK, 2015
- Figure 12: Job quality profiles of multiple-job holders’ main jobs, by sex
Research carried out prior to the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union on 31 January 2020, and published subsequently, may include data relating to the 28 EU Member States. Following this date, research only takes into account the 27 EU Member States (EU28 minus the UK), unless specified otherwise.
This report presents the results of research conducted prior to the outbreak of COVID-19 in Europe in February 2020. For this reason, the results do not take account of the outbreak.
Part of the series
Eurofound’s European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS) paints a wide-ranging picture of Europe at work across countries, occupations, sectors and age groups. This series consists of findings from the 2015 EWCS. The survey was first carried out in 1991.