Objective: To describe the characteristics of precarious employment in undocumented immigrants in Spain and its relationship with health. Methods: A qualitative study was conducted using analytic induction. Criterion sampling, based on the Immigration, Work and Health project (Inmigración, Trabajo y Salud [ITSAL]) criterion (current definitions of 'legal immigrant' in Spain and in the literature) was used to recruit 44 undocumented immigrant workers from four different countries, living in four Spanish cities. Results: The characteristics of precariousness perceived by undocumented immigrants included high job instability; disempowerment due to lack of legal protection; high vulnerability exacerbated by their legal and immigrant status; perceived insufficient wages and lower wages than coworkers; limited social benefits and difficulty in exercising their rights; and finally, long hours and fast-paced work. Our informants reported they had no serious health problems but did describe physical and mental problems associated with their employment conditions and legal situation. Conclusions: Our results suggest that undocumented immigrants' situation may not fit the model of precarious employment exactly. However, the model's dimensions can be expanded to better represent undocumented immigrants' situation, thus strengthening the general model. Precarious employment in this group can be defined as «extreme», as it affects their working and social lives. If these workers continue to be exposed to such precarious conditions, the impact on their health may increase.
- Employment conditions
- Legal status
- Social protection
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health