Nearly 300,000 Norwegians believe declining health means they will have to work less

Construction workerConstruction worker

10 % of the workforce believe they are at risk of having to reduce their work effort over the next five years, according to the latest YS labour barometer.

The proportion of Norwegian workers who believe that health will force them to work less has remained stable over the last ten years. This applies to about 269,000 of the country’s employees.

At the same time, one in four with long-term sick leave believes that health will prevent them from working as much as they do today. This proportion is increasing, while the proportion that rejects that health is a challenge, is declining.

This is worrying, says Erik Kollerud, head of the Trade Union Confederation (YS).

This applies to the weakest, the lowest paid and with the lowest education, and who also have the most physical work. They also have the most health challenges. If we set it up against the transition phase Norwegian working life is going through, they are also most at risk here, he says to NTB.

Exposed industries
This year’s barometer draws a much clearer picture of which people, occupational groups and work areas are exposed, according to Kollerud.

We find out more clearly where we need to put in extra effort. Not least because working life will go through a restructuring and change in both pace and scope, says Kollerud. He points out that these professions will probably become more automated in the future.

Five industries stand out, where 14 % in transport/communications, building/construction, retail and shops, kindergarten school/teaching and health services believe that health problems mean they will work less. These are professions characterised by physical work and, in part, low levels of pay.

In industries such as banking and finance, and telecommunications, the proportion who believe that they are unlikely to work is less than 70 per cent.

Kollerud believes that several measures can help more people remain in the workforce, but there is no simple solution.

It must be resolved at each workplace, and it must be adapted to each individual worker. The IA agreement makes it possible to become even better at working locally, he says.

As it becomes increasingly clear who and what areas are exposed, it can be easier to specify measures.

It is easier to pick out the occupational areas, and we can thus make more tailor-made measures for different industries and work areas, says Kollerud.

Vulnerable groups
Health challenges are one of the key reasons people are left out or at risk of falling out of work, according to the barometer.

In particular, it applies to older workers and workers without higher education. These are more vulnerable than younger and highly educated. Of those over 60, one in five answers that health is the reason why they can’t work as much.