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2016 Conference Presentation

Workforce Austria

5 September 2016

Worker retention in long-term care

Ulrike Schneider, Vienna University of Economics and Business, Austria


This paper discusses the use of three measures of worker retention in the long-term care sector: job contract duration, an extended measure of workers’ attachment to employers accounting for temporary layoffs, and the duration of workers’ attachment to the Long-term care (LTC) sector. Our findings for Austria illustrate, how joint consideration of these measures can reveal peculiarities of the labour market dynamics in LTC.

Data and methods: Applying the Kaplan-Meier estimator to data from the Austrian Social Security Database for the years 1997-2013, we examine duration curves of these three measures for the long term care sector, the overall labour market and benchmark sectors.

Results: The results for Austria point to an eminent role of temporary layoffs in LTC. We also find indications for limited crossover capabilities for workers in long term care, keeping them from changing jobs in the sector. These findings emerge from contrasting the three measures with each other. Relying on just a single measure in observing worker retention misses out on such patterns and can thus be misleading when judging the efficient use of labour in LTC.

Policy implications: The growing demand for care workers as well as the key role of stable relationships between professional carers and their clients for care quality highlights the importance of worker retention in the long term care sector. To some extent workers exit the sector early on in their careers, which calls for retention strategies opening career perspectives in the sector. The high extent of Job recalls in the LTC sector (unemployment spells ending with a reemployment by the same employer) also deserves policy attention. Job recalls incur cost to unemployment insurance schemes and also lower workers’ future pension claims.

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