Return to Work and Ripple Effects on Family of Precariously Employed Injured Workers
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Purpose Work injury and return to work processes can have adverse effects on injured workers and their families. Family members may experience increased workloads, role reversals, dissolution of marriages or changes in relationships with children, as well as financial strain from loss of income. How these associations interact when the injured worker is precariously employed, however, is unknown. The aim of this study was to explore the impacts of work-related injury or illness as well as subsequent compensation and return to work processes on families and relationships of precariously employed workers. Methods Interviews were conducted with fifteen precariously employed injured workers recruited through on-line advertising, injured worker groups, and social media platforms in Ontario. Situational analysis was used to identify how family members were affected and their role throughout the injury process. Results Precariously employed injured workers felt caught between self-interested employers and disinterested workers' compensation. In some cases, this led to deteriorated mental health and well-being. The worker's difficulties with RTW challenged financial security of families and affected their day-to-day normal routines. While some workers received emotional and instrumental support from their family members, others had their families fall apart when chronic disability and unemployment proved to be too much. Conclusions This study addressed the complex ways that work injury and illness among precariously employed workers interact with family life and relationships. Findings illustrate how the income and employment insecurity associated with precarious employment has ripple effects on workers and their families when they become injured.
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