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Is Precarious Employment Good or Bad? – It Depends

Precarious Employment

Precarious employment is one of those polarizing topics that is sure to spark a lively debate around the water cooler.  At one end of the spectrum, there are those who see precarious employment as a huge problem and are fighting to reduce it through legislative changes to increase protection and job security for workers.  At the other end, there are those who feel that the impact of precarious employment has been hugely exaggerated and the majority of workers in this category are having their needs met and don’t need assistance.  The existence of such opposing views becomes understandable against the backdrop of a broad definition of precarious employment being, ‘any type of non-standard employment’.  This definition is so broad that a huge number of jobs can be lumped under the precarious employment banner including those that are part-time, temporary, contract or involving self-employment.

There are undoubtedly workers who are required, but unable, to support their households due to the precarious nature of their employment.  However, despite where you sit relative to your views on precarious employment, consensus surely can be made that not all workers in non-standard jobs are experiencing a negative impact from the precariousness of their employment (Doctors and Lawyers come to mind!).  As the world of work shifts and incidents of precarious employment continue to rise (according to the Worker’s Action Centre, 1 in 3 jobs in Ontario are precarious) it is important to be clear on what percentage of workers are being negatively impacted and what percentage of workers are precisely where they want to be.

How many people do you know that fall into the precariously employed category and are benefiting from it?  Perhaps it’s a student who is working a low wage, part-time job that is helping to pay for their post-secondary education while providing them with valuable experience?  Or, it’s a retiree who supplements their income and shares expertise gained through years of experience by working on short term contracts?  Or, it’s a self-employed mother who has created a position for herself which allows for greater flexibility and a customized work/life balance?

Regardless of where you stand on the topic of precarious employment, it’s here to stay.  So, by the way, where do you stand on this topic?


Melissa Rivers, an ASSOCIUM Consultant team member, offers an interesting twist on the precarious employment dialogue.

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