Although employment contract with one employer is the most common way to earn one’s living, alternative ways have emerged with fragmentation trends in economy and labour markets. An increasing pattern of employment is multiple job holding, which combines many employment contracts and/ or assignments. Fragmentation of labour market, underemployment, growth of 24/7 service economy, restructuring of occupational map and new technologies increase the variation of employment patterns. The study field has been scarcely studied in Finland and therefore, knowledge is needed for academic and practical purposes.

The study contributes to the discussions of precarious work and self-employment, but it is not identical with them. According to previous studies, multiple job holding patterns are varied, and also motivated with a variety of reasons between forced and voluntary decisions on multiple job holding. We aim to study career patterns, patterns of multiple job holding in different occupations and institutional frame and labour market regimes related to the phenomenon. In addition, we ask, what are the positive and negative characteristics of having many jobs or assignments. The study applies a multidisciplinary and multimethodological approach; the contribution is based on sociology and economics. In addition to research, the aim is to raise debates on the problems related to multiple job holding among decision-makers and citizen society.


Fragmentation of labour market, underemployment, growth of 24/7 service economy, restructuring of occupational map and new technologies increase the variation of employment patterns. In Finland, increasing self-employment and precarious work have been recognized in the studies dealing with new employment patterns. Precarious work refers to continuing disruption of employment conditions and terms, which is related to restructuring of economy. Self-employment may have precarious characteristics, but also may also be a new, positive way of making one’s living and a choice in life course on terms of autonomous and free entrepreneurship. Multiple job holding implies to precarious work and self-employment, but it cannot be reverted to them, as the combination of jobs may consist of whole-time or/and part time wage earning and/or self-employment. Multiple job holding may be forced or voluntary. In addition to shortage of income, a variety of motives is related to multiple job holding, such as individualization of life courses and development of competences. Studies on this theme have been carried out in Australia, in some European countries and in Northern America, but in Finland, the studies are scarce. The study focuses on the patterns of multiple job holding, but also contributes on the institutional systems, which regulate industrial relations and unemployment benefits and retirement allowances.


The aim is to study multiple job holding (MJH) by applying a comprehensive approach, which focuses on individuals, occupations/professions and society. The study applies following research questions.

  • What are the patterns of multiple job holding? What are the motives or career paths to multiple job holding?
  • What kinds of patterns are applied in different occupations/professions?
  • How the institutional systems respond to the needs of multiple job holders? For example, how the systems for regulating unemployment benefits and retirement allowance consider multiple job holders’ needs?

Negative and positive characteristics of multiple job holding are studied and the problems related to this kind of employment is analysed at individual and institutional level.

The study is multidisciplinary, as the researchers come from the fields of sociology and economics.  A multi-methodological approach is applied. With qualitative approach, interview data and narratives are collected. A new application based on Internet-based game is applied. Register data (1995-2016), linked with survey data (2013), are analysed: the data include data on employment, income and quality of work.


The study produces research-based knowledge on a theme, which has been scarcely researched in Finland. With the study, elaboration of the concepts related to these patterns of employment is carried out. With the concepts, the problems related to multiple job holding are better recognized and tackled in the future.

The problems and challenges, which are caused by the rigidity of the institutional systems for responding their needs, are examined and debates related to these problems are raised among decision-makers and citizens.

Research team

Harri Melin, pofessor, Tampere University, Work Research Centre, harri.melin@tuni.fi, 0504201526

Arja Haapakorpi, senior research fellow, Tampere University, Work Research Centre, arja.haapakorpi@tuni.fi, +358 50 3182333

Anu Järvensivu, yliopistotutkija, Anu Järvensivu, senior research fellow, Tampereen yliopisto, Työelämän tutkimuskeskus, anu.jarvensivu@tuni.fi, 0407081270

Merja Kauhanen, senior researcher, Labour Institute for Economic Research, merja.kauhanen@labour.fi, (09) 2535 7335


The Finnish Work Environment Fund is the main funding source.

The partners also participate on funding the research project.



Turva, mutual non-life insurance company

TELA, Association of insurers providing statutory earnings-related pensions

Akava – Confederation of Unions for Professional and Managerial Staff in Finland

Akava Special Branches

Academic Engineers and Architects in Finland TEK

The Finnish Business School Graduates

The Union of Journalists in Finland

Social Science Professionals

Trade Union for Theater and Media Finland TEME