Study and Work Plan

Underemployment, changing occupational structure and 24/7 services and unstable economy in the era of globalization increase variation in employment patterns. Precarious work and self-employment have been recognized as new ways of earning one's living. Partly interlacing with these phenomena, the number of multiple job holders is increasing. However, multiple job holding is not identical with precarious employment and self-employment despite of similarities in respect of employment terms and conditions. Combinations of employment contracts and / or assignments and related organizational arrangements vary by life course, profession / occupations and business field. It is motivated by a variety of reasons, ranging from voluntary to forced,

Our aim is to study i) the careers and motivations, ii) professional / occupational variations of multiple job holders and iii) multiple job holding in the institutional frames of labour market and welfare systems.

Study and Work Plan



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 (Bamberry & Campbell 2012). Underemployment, changing occupational structure and 24/7 services and unstable economy in the era of globalization increase variation in employment patterns. Research-based knowledge about this diversified phenomenon is scarce particularly in Finland. The studies dealing with atypical employment focus either on precarious employment (Standing 2011) or self-employment (Eurofound 2017). Precarious employment refers to short-term contracts, fragmented careers, scarce resources in negotiations for employment and unstable future prospects. Precarious employment is related to structures of economy, for instability has become a permanent quality of national economics and precarious employment is common in those industries, which are exposed to cycles of economy.

Self-employment is also an growing trend in labour market. Self-employment may be voluntary, motivated by better opportunities for income and development of skills and freedom of action, but it may also be forced due to underemployment.  In case of the latter, self-employment is related to precarious employment.

However, multiple job holding is not theoretically and empirically identical with precarious work or self-employment, although it partly interlaces them. The focus of the study is having multiple income and employment sources, either as a salary earner or self-employed. On the basis of previous studies, the traditional multiple job holding pattern has been a permanent full-time job and a side job later in career, but, recently, the patterns of multiple job holding have been diversifying (Bamberry & Campbell 2012).

Having many jobs may be motivated by shortage of income or professional development, but there are strong signs which refer to much more diversified sets of motives and combinations of employment (Bamberry & Campbell 2012).  Multiple job holding is related to life course in various ways. It may be a method for starting one’s own business before retirement or, for young graduates,  it may be a way of earning one’s living in case of underemployment. Multiple job holding has become more common among women, which may be related to increasing part-time jobs at service sector (Haataja & Kauhanen 2012).

Multiple job holding is related to employment and welfare policy (Saunders 2011) and legislation on employment (Quinlan 2003) as follows. Welfare systems (funds for unemployment benefits and retirement allowance) do not recognize the new ways of earning and working, as the systems are built on the patterns of typical full-time employment contract with one employer or entrepreneurship. For the employing work organization, those employees who have side-jobs or assignments may be suspected not to be committed or loyal for the work-site (see Guest et al. 2006). However, this claim is challenged by Raeder (2018), who reports that commitment is related to specific tasks, which provide meaningful work. On the other hand, non-compete terms in employment contracts have become more common, which may decrease the opportunity to external contracts or assignments.

The occupational map of multiple job holders is broad, ranging from highly qualified professionals to low-skilled production work (Bouwhuis et al. 2019). In Finland, in addition to professional experts, multiple job holding is common in construction industry, services, sales, industrial production (Haataja & Kauhanen 2012). However, little is known about the combinations of jobs and/or assignments of multiple job holders.  According to Bamberry and Campbell (2012), the jobs or assignments may be from different occupational or professional branches. Throsby and Zednik (2011) have studied multiple job holding in the fields of culture and arts and they reported a pattern based on combining creative work (core of the artistic work), arts-related work (applications of their arts) and non-artistic work. Haapakorpi and Onnismaa (2014) recognized a pattern of combining artistic work and welfare work in their study focusing on the hybridization or occupations. The professionals in the field of arts and culture found this pattern reasonable for financial reasons, but they also reported conflicts between the rationalities of welfare and arts.

According to a recent study, the proportion of multiple job holders of labour force is approaching 10 % for example in Netherlands, Denmark and UK (Raeder 2018).  In Finland, the proportion of multiple task holders is approximately 5-6 % of labour force, but the statistics date back to 2010 (Haataja & Kauhanen 2012). The traditional pattern of multiple job holding is claimed to be rather common in US, as in Europe, combining part-time jobs and self-employment is more general. It is probable that this employment pattern is growing, for self-employment and part-time jobs are increasing.

In Finland, multiple job holding has been scarcely studied and research-based knowledge on this field is highly necessary for academic and practical needs and purposes.

Study plan

Our study on “Multiple job holding – practices and institutional frame 2019-2020” contributes to this research field with the following perspectives: individual, occupational / professional and society. We study

  1. how individuals shape their careers consisting of many employment contracts or assignments,
  2. how multiple job holding is carried out in different occupational fields, and
  3. how multiple job holding is related to labour markets and institutional systems.

We consider individual careers holistic, in other words, not bound to a linear mobility pattern but to diversified ways of combining income sources and employment with individual life courses (Järvensivu 2014). Careers and occupations are restructured with new technologies, and we assume that this is related to multiple job holding (Acemoglu & Restrepo 2018). For example, platform economy organizes tasks and assignments in new ways, and some occupations, such as retail, may be exposed to shortened work hours and reshaping of tasks (see: Sangeet 2018). Occupations and professions have different resources for guarding their interests when facing challenges and competition in fragmented economy and labour markets (see Haapakorpi 2009), which results in particular patterns of multiple job holding.

We apply the theoretical approach of quality of work for investigating the quality of multiple job holding. Francis Green, Alan Felstead and Duncan Gallie (2016) define the quality of work as follows: wages, prospects and insecurity, intrinsic quality and the quality of work time. On the basis of previous studies, involuntary part-time work tend to be problematic regarding the quality of work (Kauhanen & Nätti 2015). Studies on multiple job holding report that all these elements vary by professional field and by individual characteristics. Coping with many assignments and employment contracts is a special question for multiple job holders as they have to adapt to the requirements of many employers and/or clients.

The third perspective for studying multiple job holding, labour market and institutional systems, refers theoretically to the production and employment regimes and welfare systems. Gallie (2004) define the production systems as follows. In capitalist societies, different employment dynamics have been recognized in the way that firms cope with their coordination related to labour force and industrial relations. In liberal market economies, coordination pattern is based on hierarchies and competitive market arrangements. Diverging from liberal market economies to some extent but not totally, coordinated market economics apply also non-market arrangements. The former regime is typical for UK and other liberal market countries, and the latter to Germany and Nordic countries. According to Gallie (2004) employment regimes are compromises among the major players in labour markets and they regulate or set conditions for employment systems. The inclusive regime implies to an employment system, which strives for providing decent jobs for all. When attention is directed to core or skilled employees, at the expense of poor conditions and low security of the periphery, dualistic regime is applied. The market regime is inclined to minimalist regulation of employment.

From the perspective of multiple job holding, these regimes provide different terms and conditions for employment and related welfare. In general, the Finnish regimes are based on coordinated market arrangements and inclusive employment system. However, the regimes are ideal types and there is probably variation in respect to industry or business. The problems of welfare systems in respect to recognizing the needs of self-employment and multiple job holding refer to variation between different fields of business.

Methodology and data

Our research methodology consists of qualitative approach (interviews, narratives) and quantitative approach (register and survey data) and the groups consist of sociologists and economists. The partner trade unions disseminate the call for participating in the interviews and writing narratives to their members. The interviewed persons are also searched with the help of Internet pages and networks.

The aim is to interview 45-50 multiple job holders and the number of expected narratives is 10. In addition, a digital game will be implemented for collecting data on possible futures in respect to multiple job holding patterns in different institutional frames. The varied methods of collecting data are supposed to provide variety in data.

The data is analysed by applying sociological approach. The interview data are examined with content analysis method and the texts by applying narrative methods (Alasuutari 2007). Career patterns and motives for multiple job holding, including perspectives related to life course are analysed in institutional frame. Professional / occupational patterns are examined for multiple job holding is related to restructuring of occupational / professional map.

With quantitative analysis, register data (1995-2016), which is based on data from employers and employees and completed with data on income, are analysed. Survey data on multiple job holders and their quality of work are combined to the register data. The survey data come from Statistics Finland. In the analysis, specific methods, such as probit, multinomial logit are applied.

With the analysis, the following research questions are responded.

  1. What are the variations and patterns of multiple job holding? Who are multiple job holders (age, gender, education, profession, age)?
  2. What is the quality of work? What kinds of income sources multiple job holders have? Is the income sufficient or even substantial?
  3. How multiple job holding is related to life course and labour market mobility?
  4. What are the negative and positive characteristics of multiple job holding? What are the methods to tackle the negative characteristics?

On the basis of the analysis, debates and discussions on the phenomenon are raised in publicity with appropriated ways, such as panel discussions, presentations etc.

Our aim is also to discuss the epistemological terms and conditions for the multi-methodological research approach.


The researchers are Adjunct Professors, University Researchers Arja Haapakorpi and Anu Järvensivu (Tampere University, Work Research Centre) and Ph.D (Economics), Research Coordinator Merja Kauhanen (Labour Institute for Economic Research) and Professor Jouko Nätti (Tampere University).


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Bamberry, L & Campbell, I, (2012) “Multiple Job Holders in Australia: Motives and Personal Impact,” Australian Bulletin of Labour, National Institute of Labour Studies, vol. 38(4), pages 293-314.

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