Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 1997;23(5):378-384    pdf

https://doi.org/10.5271/sjweh.235 | Issue date: Oct 1997

Job adjustment as a means to reduce sickness absence during pregnancy

by Strand K, Wergeland E, Bjerkedal T

Objectives This study examined the effect of job adjustment on sickness absence during pregnancy and also determined the conditions under which such adjustments are obtained.

Methods Data were derived from a nationally representative survey on work conditions during pregnancy in Norway in 1989. For employees (N=2713) remaining in the same job throughout pregnancy, the percentage of women on sick leave immediately before delivery was determined according to the need for job adjustment and the obtainment of job adjustment. Those obtaining job adjustment were grouped according to workplace size, labor-market sector, co-worker gender, educational level, work schedules, weekly workhours, children under 16 years of age in the household, and age.

Results All told, 1691 women (62.3%) needed job adjustment, among whom 936 (55.4%) obtained such adjustment. The proportions of those on sick leave before delivery were 45.2% for "no need", 67.9% for "need -- adjustment obtained", and 79.2% for "need -- adjustment not obtained". In the last category, the difference (versus "adjustment obtained") constituted 44.5% of the weeks lost because of sickness absence in the last half of pregnancy. The odds ratio (OR) for obtaining job adjustment was larger for workplaces with more than 50 employees (OR 1.4) and smaller for jobs with work schedules other than daytime or shift work (OR 0.5) and also for women living with children under 16 years of age (OR 0.8).

Conclusion Job adjustment is associated with reduced sickness absence during pregnancy. Further studies should explore workplace characteristics that make it difficult to obtain such adjustments, as required by law.

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