Representations of informal jobs and health risks among housemaids and construction workers

Jorge Alberto Bernstein Iriart Roberval Passos de Oliveira Shirlei da Silva Xavier Alane Mendara da Silva Costa Gustavo Ribeiro de Araújo Vilma Sousa Santana About the authors

During the past few decades, the Brazilian labor market has been characterized by an increase of unregistered workers, earning lower wages, not covered by social insurance or occupational risk prevention programs. This study describes the representations and perceptions about informal work contracts and job-related health risks, analyzed in a group of injured unregistered workers. This was a qualitative study based on in-depth interviews carried out with seventeen laborers, nine housemaids and eight construction workers. The findings indicate that workers recognize the importance of formal jobs, mainly because of legal guarantees of labor rights, mentioning the symbolic downgrading of informal jobs that undermines their self-esteem. Both work groups tended to minimize occupational health risks in the work environment, and did not recognize associations between informal job contracts and occupational accidents or diseases. It was clear that workers want to have job contracts. The findings of the study demonstrate the need for broader dissemination and discussion about labor rights and the construction of public policies that encompass health and safety programs for these workers.

Informal jobs; Social representations; Risk perception; Housework; Civil construction


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