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European Working Conditions Observatory (EWCO)


11 April 2014: How trade unions help to protect workers’ rights (Latvia / Information update)
A survey in Latvia has looked at how trade unions work to prevent abuse of workers’ rights. It was commissioned by the Free Trade Union Confederation of Latvia and the results suggest there were fewer violations of labour rights at businesses where there was a trade union. However, the findings also suggest that employees have a high level of tolerance for the abuse of labour rules. Employees’ loyalty towards their work and the spread of the shadow economy were also examined.

11 April 2014: Better ‘workability’ means longer careers (Belgium / Information update)
The most recent results from a three-yearly study that examines perceptions of work in Belgium’s Flemish Region, asking respondents to score ‘workability’ factors, showed that just over half the employees who participated were in a job where they felt motivated and offered them the chance to learn new skills. The same group reported no problems with stress, and said they enjoyed a reasonable work–life balance. Just under a third of the respondents reported that stress was a problem.

11 April 2014: Low economic activity among people over 45 (Poland / Information update)
The low activity rate in Poland’s labour market among women aged between 45 and 69 has been confirmed by a recent study. The research is being used to shape the government response to the problem of an ageing workforce combined with a rising retirement age. The research figures show the public sector is more likely than the private sector to employ people over the age of 45. In the private sector, this age group is most likely to be found working in small and medium-sized companies.

04 April 2014: Slow progress in employment of disabled workers (France / Information update)
Legislation on the compulsory employment of disabled workers in France was passed in 2005. It appears to have increased the recruitment of workers with disabilities, but at a slow pace. Figures show the number of disabled people in private sector companies with at least 20 employees increased by 3.1% in 2011. However, four in ten companies which have hired disabled workers still fall short of the legal requirements. Disabled workers are predominantly older men in low-skilled jobs.

04 April 2014: Improving the psychosocial work environment for state church employees (Denmark / Information update)
The unique challenges of working for the church in Denmark have been examined in a new report. More than 4,800 people took part in the study which looked specifically at the church’s psychological work environment. It makes recommendations about how to resolve three key issues that the church should address:a poorly defined management structure, the lack of formal conflict resolution, and poor support for staff who face unusually high levels of work-related emotional strain.

03 April 2014: Women at work: difficulties achieving work–life balance (Portugal / Information update)
Patterns of employment among women in two sectors in Portugal have been put under the spotlight in a new study. The study looked at women working in the information, communications and technologies sector and in ‘new’ retail, characterised as supermarkets and shopping centres. The research focused on working time flexibility and the high incidence of temporary work in Portugal. It looked at factors which impact on women’s management of their work–life balance.

31 March 2014: Crisis generates negative expectations among young people (Spain / Information update)
Young people in Spain are particularly affected by the difficult economic crisis, according to a recent report. The concerns of young people are reflected in negative perceptions about the current situation as well as the outlook for the coming year. The low expectations of young people are particularly dramatic as far as the labour market is concerned. This situation is also negatively affecting the perception of young people about the political, social and economic system.

26 March 2014: Law on work-related stress in need of updating (Sweden / Information update)
A study has suggested Sweden’s Work Environment Act fails to tell employers what their obligations are towards their employees to prevent work-related stress and stress-related illness. Until recently there had not been a single conviction of an employer violating laws which outlaw working environments likely to cause ‘psychosocial’ illnesses. The study says the legislation is too vague and outdated, and the organisation that could clarify the rules has failed to do so.

26 March 2014: Low uptake of degree course based on work experience (France / Information update)
A system giving people in France the opportunity earn a degree based on professional experience was introduced in 2002. However, the number of people applying for this type of qualification has decreased. A new study shows degrees are most likely to be granted to women in employment who are aged between 30 and 49. Qualifications tend to be awarded in relatively low educational categories, but the initiative remains of importance for people who could not obtain a degree earlier in life.

25 March 2014: Access to work issues for visually impaired people (Portugal / Information update)
People in Portugal with disabilities, particularly those with visual impairment, have serious problems finding employment. A study carried out by the Observatory of Inequalities shows that several factors affect how problematical it may be for the visually impaired to find work. These include gender, the age at which a person’s vision became impaired, and household composition. Educational attainment, however, was found to be the most important factor.