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To compare psychosocial work conditions and health status between public and private sector employees and to examine if psychosocial work conditions explained the health differences.Two thousand four hundred fourty one public and 15,589 private sector employees participated in a cross-sectional survey. Psychosocial work hazards, self-rated health (SRH), and burnout status were assessed by questionnaire.As compared with private sector employees, public sector employees reported better psychosocial work conditions and better SRH, but higher risk of workplace violence (WPV) and higher levels of client-related burnout. Regression analyses indicated that higher psychosocial job demands, lower workplace justice, and WPV experience were associated with poor SRH and higher burnout. The public–private difference in client-related burnout remained even with adjustment of psychosocial work factors.Greater risks of WPV and client-related burnout observed in public sector employees warrant further investigation.