So how exactly does one calculate their score on the Employment Precarity Index?

As noted in PEPiN Nerd Blog Post #4, the Employment Precarity Index (EPI) is a measure created from responses to ten (10) close-ended questions. Each question’s possible response is then weighted. These ten scores are then added up to create a single Employment Precarity Index score of 0 to 100.

Because the Employment Precarity Index is more complicated to calculate than the Secure Employment variable, we’ve provided a tutorial to explain how we calculate the EPI.

Step 1: Answer the following questions. Then, score each of them. Finally, add up all your scores to come up with your Employment Precarity Index score.

Question, closed-ended responses and associated score Your score
1. Do you usually get paid if you miss a day’s work?

    NO (+10)

    YES (+0)     

2. I have one employer, whom I expect to be working for a year from now, who provides at least 30 hours of work a week, and who pays benefits.

    NO (+10)

    YES (+0)

3. Between April 1st of 2016 and March 31st of 2017, how much did your income vary from week to week?

    A GREAT DEAL (+10)

    A LOT (+7.5)
    SOME (+5)
    A LITTLE (+2.5)

    NONE (+0)

4. How likely will your total hours of paid employment be reduced in the next six months?

    VERY LIKELY (+10)
    LIKELY (+7.5)
    SOMEWHAT LIKELY (+5)

    UNLIKELY (+0)

    VERY UNLIKELY(+0)

5b In the first three months of 2017, how often did you work on an on-call basis? (That is, you have no set schedule, and your employer calls you in only when there is work.)

    ALL THE TIME (+10)
    MOST OF THE TIME (+7.5)
    HALF THE TIME (+5)
    SOME OF THE TIME (+2.5)

    NEVER (+0)

6. Do you know your work schedule at least one week in advance?

    NEVER (+10)
    SOME OF THE TIME (+7.5)
    HALF THE TIME (+5)

    MOST OF THE TIME (+2.5)

    ALWAYS (+0)

7. In the first 3 months of 2017, what portion of your employment income was received in cash?

    MOST (+10)
    ABOUT HALF (+7.5)
    LESS THAN HALF(+5)

    NONE (+0)

8. Which of the following best describes the job/contract that paid you the most in the first 3 months of 2017?

    CASUAL (on call, day labour) (+10)

    TEMPORARY / SHORT TERM CONTRACT (less than a year) (+10)
    FIXED TERM CONTRACT, ONE YEAR OR MORE (+5)

    SELF-EMPLOYED – NO EMPLOYEES (+7.5)

    SELF-EMPLOYED – OTHERS WORK FOR HIM/HER (+0)
    PERMANENT PART-TIME – LESS THAN 30 HOURS PER WEEK (+2.5)

    PERMANENT FULL-TIME  – HOURS VARY WEEK TO WEEK AND COULD SOMETIMES BE LESS THAN 30 (+2.5)
    PERMANENT FULL-TIME (+0)

9.* Other than your Canada Pension Plan contributions, does your current employer(s) provide:

    A COMPANY PENSION PLAN OR CONTRIBUTIONS TO YOUR RRSP (If NO, +5)

    ANY OTHER EMPLOYMENT BENEFITS(S) ( drug plan, vision, dental, life insurance etc.) (If NO, +5)

10. Would your employment in the first 3 months of 2017 have been negatively affected if you raised a health and safety concern or raised an employment rights concern with your employer(s)?

    YES (+10)

    NO (+0)

Total score (to find your Employment Precarity Index score)

NB: In the telephone survey, Question #9 is actually asked using two separate survey questions. In the 2011 and 2013 versions of the Employment Precarity Index, Question #10 uses a five-point Likert response of Very Likely (+10), Likely (+7.5), Neither likely nor unlikely (+5), Unlikely (+0) and Very Unlikely (+0).

In cases where any of the respondents did not know or refused to answer any of these ten questions, we could not use their response to calculate the Employment Precarity Index. As a result, they were dropped from the calculation. Of the 713 survey respondents, 684 answered these ten questions. The minimum score possible is 0 and the maximum score possible is 100.

Practice by scoring Judy and Bob’s responses:

Judy Q1 NO, Q2 YES, Q3 SOME, Q4 UNLIKELY, Q5 MOST OF THE TIME, Q6 ALWAYS, Q7 NONE, Q8 PERMANENT PART-TIME, Q9 NO & YES, Q10 YES.

Bob Q1 YES, Q2 YES, Q3 A LITTLE, Q4 UNLIKELY, Q5 NEVER, Q6 ALWAYS, Q7 NONE, Q8 PERMANENT FULL-TIME, Q9 YES & YES, Q10 NO.

Scroll to the bottom for the answers.

Step 2: We then take everyone’s Employment Precarity Index scores, and rank the scores from smallest to largest.

Thus, if your EPI score is zero, then you are ranked first (or equivalently with all the other persons who scored a zero). Next, we rank all the persons who have an EPI score of 2.5 (as that is the next lowest possible score. For instance, Answer d “Most of the time” to Question 6: “Do you know your work schedule at least one week in advance?” is worth 2.5 points). We then move on to all those person whose EPI score was a 5. We continue ranking these scores until we reach 100.

When we are done with all this ranking, we have what is called a distribution. If we make a relative frequency histogram or absolute frequency histogram (it resembles a bar graph but is not a bar graph), we can see the spread of the scores making up the Employment Precarity Index.

Step 3: We then divide this distribution into quartiles (or categories). This creates four categories. The first quartile includes the lowest EPI scores, the second and third quartiles follow, and the fourth quartile contains the highest EPI scores. Following the convention established in the 2011,  2013 and 2015 PEPSO studies on precarious employment in the GTA and Hamilton, we call the first quartile secure, the second stable, the third vulnerable and the fourth precarious.

More importantly, we have identified cut-points for these four categories. This, in conjunction with our original distribution, provides us a baseline against which to compare future surveys, and in turn determine if overall Niagara’s workers are becoming more or less secure over time.

ANSWERS: Judy’s score on the Employment Precarity Index is 40. Bob’s is 2.5.