Survey: Coronavirus hits blue-collar employees hardest among staff groups

A survey commissioned by the Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions (SAK) suggests that the health hazards and economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic are worst for employees working in blue-collar occupations. Despite the pandemic, nearly 80 per cent of blue-collar employees are still in direct physical contact with other people at work. The corresponding proportion of salaried employees is about half.
30.01.2021 10:30
Bus driver Mikko Ahomäki. Photo from SAK's video.

The survey indicates that blue-collar employees have little opportunity to protect themselves from coronavirus infection by switching to teleworking, and only one in ten has transitioned to mainly remote working. More than half of senior salaried employees and 40 per cent of salaried employees in junior grades have switched to teleworking.

Nearly half (48%) of all blue-collar employees have experienced a fear of falling ill at work, while one in five (19%) feels that the employer has taken inadequate workplace safety precautions. The Occupational Safety and Health Act requires employers to ensure health and safety at workplaces.

One in five blue-collar employees has been furloughed due to coronavirus, compared to 15 per cent of salaried employees. One in five blue-collar employees also report a fall in income due to coronavirus.

SAK Head of Development Juha Antila observes that the survey reveals increased inequality and polarisation of the working world during the epidemic.

“Coronavirus has the hardest impact on people whose status in the world of work is already disadvantaged in other ways. Blue-collar employees have fewer opportunities than other staff groups for flexibility in terms of their working hours and place of work, and their livelihoods are also poorer.”

A third of employees are psychologically worse off during the pandemic

Mental well-being in the world of work has deteriorated due to the coronavirus pandemic. Just over a third (35%) of blue-collar employees and salaried employees in junior grades are psychologically worse off following the changes caused by coronavirus.

Almost half (44%) of blue-collar employees also feel that their work has become more stressful over this period.

“All employees are entitled to preventative and working capacity support services. Employers should now be working with the occupational health care service to find effective ways of reducing stress at work,” Juha Antila insists.

The survey was commissioned by SAK and conducted by Kantar TNS Oy at the turn of November and December 2020. A total of 2,053 people responded to the survey, representing the working-age population of Finland. This was the first survey to examine the impacts of coronavirus on various staff groups in Finland.