Results regarding the risk of infection in temporary workers are not valid
The Association of German Temporary Employment Agencies (iGZ e.V.) suspects breaches of scientific quality criteria in the study reported as “Differences in COVID-19 risk between occupational groups and employment sectors in Germany.” The criticisms apply primarily to the methods for defining the group of temporary employees/agency workers and assigning them to industry sectors.
The authors applied code 780, “Placement of employees,” to employment sectors 781–783 for the criterion “temporary employees.” On the basis of employment statistics from the Federal Employment Agency, the employment sector temporary work (WZ ANÜ) is defined only by industry branches 782 and 783 (WZ 2008). Furthermore, WZ ANÜ includes permanent staff and temporary workers. The group of temporary workers can therefore only be correctly defined by the BA activity code (item 8). Code 780 can therefore not be applied to temporary workers.
The authors combined code 780 with occupational groups and characterized it as the employment sector for temporary workers, for example under occupational group 513, as “temporary workers in warehouse management or postal services). But the employment statistic does not collect data about the employment sector of temporary workers. The criterium “activity performed” is not suitable for determining the employment sector of temporary workers, as they are—for example in the occupational group 513—also active in the manufacturing sector. In principle, information about the employment sector and occupation is defined by the the circumstances at the beginning of employment or at the end of the employment. This presents a not insubstantial documentation problem as regards different employment placements and employment sectors of temporary workers.
Altogether the authors applied in the area of temporary work a combination of employment sectors and occupations, which the official statistic does not allow. For this reason, the results regarding the infection risk of temporary workers are not valid.
iGZ-Hauptstadtbüro Berlin, email@example.com
Conflict of interest statement
Ms Schlitt is employed by the Association of German Temporary Employment Agencies (iGZ).
|1.||Möhner M, Wolik A: Differences in COVID-19 risk between occupational groups and employment sectors in Germany. Dtsch Arztebl Int 2020; 117: 641–2 VOLLTEXT|