What happens to employment after an acute health shock?

Publication type

Book Chapter


Andrew Jones, Nigel Rice and Francesca Zantomio

Publication date

Series Number



Understanding the labour market behaviour of individuals who experience a major health shock is important to inform policy designed to reduce the employment gap between individuals with and without long-term health conditions. Maintaining employment is at the core of support for disabled people of working age, with the introduction of the Employment and Support Allowance to replace Incapacity Benefit. There are other good reasons to understand workers’ reactions to a major health shock. Leaving paid employment often has enduring financial consequences for families as a whole, including an increased risk of poverty. Leaving work can also cause wider losses in wellbeing, in terms of personal identity and self-esteem, and fewer opportunities for social contact. This research investigates how workers who experience cancer, a stroke or a heart attack (which we call a ‘health shock’) have responded in the post-crash labour market; do they leave the job market or remain in employment? If they remain in work, do they change how many hours they work, see their earnings fall, or perceive their employment as less secure, and do their feelings of attachment to their job or employer change? This study also examines how reactions to health shocks vary by personal characteristics such as age, gender, household composition, the severity of the health shock incurred, and socio-economic status (education and household income).


Disability, Labour Market, Public Policy and Health