Who is working while sick? Nonstandard employment and its association with absenteeism and presenteeism in South Korea

Ja Young Kim, Joohee Lee, Carles Muntaner, Seung Sup Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: This study sought to examine whether nonstandard employment is associated with presenteeism as well as absenteeism among full-time employees in South Korea. Methods: We analyzed a cross-sectional survey of 26,611 full-time employees from the third wave of the Korean Working Conditions Survey in 2011. Experience of absenteeism and presenteeism during the past 12 months was assessed through self-reports. Employment condition was classified into six categories based on two contract types (parent firm and subcontract) and three contract durations [permanent (≥1 year, no fixed term), long term (≥1 year, fixed term), and short term (<1 year, fixed term)]. Results: We found opposite trends between the association of nonstandard employment with absenteeism and presenteeism after adjusting for covariates. Compared to parent firm—permanent employment, which has been often regarded as a standard employment, absenteeism was not associated or negatively associated with all nonstandard employment conditions except parent firm—long term employment (OR 1.88; 95 % CI 1.57, 2.26). However, presenteeism was positively associated with parent firm—long term (OR 1.64; 95 % CI 1.42, 1.91), subcontract—long term (OR 1.61; 95 % CI 1.12, 2.32), and subcontract—short term (OR 1.26; 95 % CI 1.02, 1.56) employment. Conclusions: Our results found that most nonstandard employment may increase risk of presenteeism, but not absenteeism. These results suggest that previous findings about the protective effects of nonstandard employment on absenteeism may be explained by nonstandard workers being forced to work when sick.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1095-1101
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Oct 1


  • Job insecurity
  • Parent firm contract
  • Sickness absence
  • Sickness presenteeism
  • Subcontract

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


Dive into the research topics of 'Who is working while sick? Nonstandard employment and its association with absenteeism and presenteeism in South Korea'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this