Aditya Jain PhD, University of Nottingham; Luis Torres PhD, University of Nottingham; Kevin Teoh PhD, Birkbeck, University of London; Stavroula Leka PhD, University College Cork
This secondary analysis study aims to explore the relationships between legislation on work-related stress and bullying at work, organizational practices and working conditions in European enterprises.
It is hypothesized that those European countries that have implemented specific legislation on work-related stress and bullying at work will report more relevant organizational practices that will be related to a better psychosocial work environment and less reported stress and bullying at work.
Since the introduction of the European Union (EU) Framework Directive on Occupational Health and Safety in 1989, more focus has been placed on work organization aspects and their relationship with worker physical and mental health. While several EU member states introduced more specific legislation to address psychosocial risks and work-related stress since then, more initiatives took place after 2004. This was the year when European employers and trade unions signed a framework agreement on work-related stress while a second agreement on harassment and violence at work was signed in 2007. Several countries either amended or introduced legislation to specifically address these issues since then.
The role of regulation and other forms of policy on the psychosocial work environment on organizational practices has been underlined in several studies (e.g. Di Tecco et al., 2017; Iavicoli et al., 2014; Leka et al., 2012, 2015; Potter et al., 2017). However, no study has specifically investigated the relationship between existing regulation at national level with organizational practices and working conditions across Europe.
This study aims to fill this gap utilizing representative datasets at EU level to conduct a multilevel analysis of these relationships. It is hypothesized that those European countries that have implemented specific legislation on work-related stress and bullying at work will report more relevant organizational practices that will be related with a better psychosocial work environment and less reported stress and bullying at work.
The study was conducted in two stages. The first stage was a review of legislation of EU member states on work-related stress and harassment and bullying at work. Several EU member states refer to the afore-mentioned EU Framework Directive in terms of legislative provisions in their context. However, only those countries that had introduced additional legislation on each issue were deemed to have specific regulation for the purpose of this study.
The second stage of the study involved a secondary analysis utilizing two datasets representative of the EU population of workers and enterprises. The first was the European Survey of Enterprises on New & Emerging Risks (ESENER) dataset (2014). This is a representative employer survey conducted by the European Agency for Safety & Health at Work and includes all occupational sectors across all EU member states. The second was the European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS) dataset (2015). This is a representative employee survey conducted by the European Foundation for Living & Working Conditions across all EU member states.
Multilevel modelling was conducted linking these two datasets in order to explore whether those member states that had specific legislation on work-related stress and on bullying at work reported more organizational practices (i.e. procedures and measures to deal with work-related stress and with harassment/bullying at work) and whether these were related with a more positive psychosocial work environment and less reported work stress and bullying.
The secondary analysis is almost complete and indicates that the study hypotheses are confirmed. There is a gradient in terms of organizational practices and working conditions according to whether or not they have prioritized work-related stress and bullying at work through specific regulation. More organizational practices, a more positive psychosocial work environment and less work-related stress and bullying are reported in those countries with specific legislation. Full results will be presented at the conference.
The poster presentation will also discuss overall the differences in coverage and focus of regulation across EU member states, highlighting any associated differences in findings. It will also provide recommendations on the future of policy making in this area in Europe.
Strengths of the study include the representative datasets utilized and coverage of issues considered. Limitations include the cross-sectional nature of the surveys and use of existing measures with no opportunity to design items for the study.
The study provides evidence on the role of specific legislation on work-related stress and bullying at work to both foster good organizational practices and a more positive psychosocial work environment.