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Paid employment vs vulnerable employment

Find out the latest trends in employment by status category and how paid employment compares to vulnerable employment around the world in Paid employment vs vulnerable employment, the third issue of our new series Spotlight on work statistics.

A worker’s status in employment refers to a set of specific characteristics of their job, namely the type of contract under which he or she is employed, the type of economic risk he or she faces in this job (including the attachment between the person and the job), and the type of authority that he or she has over the work establishment and other workers.

Not surprisingly, status in employment is closely linked to the quality of employment. It determines to a great extent the job holder’s working conditions. Many aspects of the working life such as job security, basic remuneration, earnings security, working time, and whether the job is in the formal or informal sector are directly related to workers’ status in employment.

Employees (that is, employed persons holding paid employment jobs) represent the category of status in employment usually associated with more job security, and better working conditions in general, whereas own-account workers and contributing family workers constitute two categories of status in employment regarded as vulnerable employment. Although this is true in general terms, it is necessary to keep in mind that some employees do lack basic elements of decent work (such as not being covered by social security and/or social dialogue) while some own-account workers and contributing family workers are not in a precarious or vulnerable situation. Thus, while the share of own-account workers and contributing family workers is a valuable and reasonable proxy to measure vulnerability, it is nevertheless an imperfect one.

If you found this interesting, take the time to read the full brief.


  • Rosina Gammarano

    Rosina is a Senior Labour Statistician in the Statistical Standards and Methods Unit of the ILO Department of Statistics. Passionate about addressing inequality and gender issues and using data to cast light on decent work deficits, she is a recurrent author of the ILOSTAT Blog and the Spotlight on Work Statistics. She has previous experience in the Data Production and Analysis Unit of the ILO Department of Statistics and the UN Resident Coordinator’s team in Mexico.

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