EWCO news updates
Regular news updates from the Observatory network of national correspondents
News updates are short articles based on newsworthy developments in the area of quality of work at national level. Each national correspondent provides 4-6 such articles each year.
Ireland: Increase in occupational accidents and illnesses (27 November 2006)
The Irish Health and Safety Authority (HSA) has published a detailed statistical report ‘Summary of fatality, injury and illness statistics 2004–2005’, which provides a statistical portrait of the numbers, types and causes of occupational injuries and illnesses in Ireland. Among the key findings of the report are that the number of people killed in workplace accidents increased by almost 50% between 2004 and 2005, while back injuries are the most common result of accidents. Particular risk groups have been identified and the HSA has issued a series of targeted risk alerts as part of an action programme to address the high number of accidents and fatalities.
Ireland: Code of Practice on work safety in agriculture (27 November 2006)
The Irish Health and Safety Authority has published a Code of Practice which provides practical guidance to farmers and others working in the agricultural sector on how to avoid occupational injuries and illnesses. The farmyard has traditionally been regarded as one of the two most dangerous types of workplaces in Ireland, with over 3,000 accidents occurring each year.
Portugal: Companies slow to employ highly qualified graduates (27 November 2006)
Despite significant investment in advanced training in Portugal, barriers have been identified which prevent the recruitment of post-graduate professionals in Portuguese companies. The main problems relate to the companies’ capacities to afford and to integrate such highly qualified staff, as well as reservations about the particular characteristics of post-graduates, such as a possible lack of flexibility and academic orientation. Nevertheless, companies do recognise the potential value of post-graduates as possible agents of change in terms of innovation and technology.
Romania: Call for improvements in continuous vocational training (20 November 2006)
According to a survey conducted by the Romanian Ministry of Labour, Social Solidarity and Family on opinions about vocational training issues, the majority of respondents identify the need for periodic evaluation of training capacity, mechanisms to foster investment, the elimination of obstacles in organising vocational training, and a greater balance between supply and demand in terms of training courses.
Italy: Two in three workers work overtime to boost income (20 November 2006)
The preliminary results of the survey ‘L’Italia che lavora oggi’ (‘The working Italy today’) carried out by the Italian Economic and Social Research Institute show that earnings are higher among those employees working longer hours. In general, working overtime is perceived as a way to increase the personal and family income, particularly among workers with poor career opportunities. The survey findings also reveal that working time impacts on the gender pay gap.
EU.LEVEL: Broader gender perspective needed in debate on ‘making work pay’ (20 November 2006)
The report, ‘Making work pay’: debates from a gender perspective, is a comparative review of some recent policy reforms in 30 European countries. The aim of the report is to identify the gender impact of tax or social benefit reforms, the effect of maternity and parental leave on employment (re-)integration, and the development of childcare services as an instrument to support parents’ employment.
EU.LEVEL: Company-level policies prove effective in age management (20 November 2006)
A recent report on ageing and employment, from the European Commission, considers measures designed to help maintain and improve the employment opportunities of older workers. Based on a study of 11 EU countries, the report offers important empirical findings that demonstrate how some companies are beginning to address the issue of managing an ageing workforce.
Latvia: First national study on working conditions (20 November 2006)
With financial assistance from the European Union Social Fund, the Ministry of Welfare has commissioned the first-ever study on working conditions in Latvia. The study aims to gather information on work safety and to develop recommendations for improving the legal framework regulating this field in order to improve working conditions and the working environment in Latvian companies. The research focuses on two main fields – legal employment relations and the working environment – and examines the relation between both areas. The research results will be available at the beginning of 2007.
Ireland: Workplace health project wins innovation award (20 November 2006)
The Irish Ministry for Health decided to target the workplace in order to promote health and well-being among citizens. A health project was subsequently set up in County Roscommon among small and medium-sized companies. It included a survey of existing workplace health policies and a pilot project aimed at developing better support services. The project received a Health Services Executive innovation award on 11 October 2006.
Italy: Growth in feeling of job insecurity among workers (13 November 2006)
The third survey on quality of work in the province of Bolzano/Bozen, a bilingual province in the northeast of Italy, reveals that most employees are required to carry out increasingly complex tasks, apart from manual and part-time workers. However, in a comparison with the findings from previous surveys, wages are still low and the feeling of job insecurity is significantly on the increase, despite low unemployment rates and high levels of financial support from the local government.
Latvia: Attitudes towards work safety regulations and employment relations (13 November 2006)
Less than half of Latvian workers and 81% of employers consider that they are aware of the legal aspects of employment relations. Some 79% of employers interviewed are aware of work safety issues, but only 14% consider themselves to be very well informed in this area. Overall, 30% of the employers interviewed admit that work safety regulations under Latvian labour legislation are difficult to comply with. These findings, among others, are the conclusions of the public opinion study on the operation of the State Labour Inspectorate, carried out in 2005.
Hungary: Improved quality of work for casual workers (13 November 2006)
Employment by means of the ‘casual employee booklet’ is an atypical, legal form of employment in Hungary. It allows for the recording of short-term or occasional employment, and is advantageous both for the employer and the employee. Through use of this booklet, the administrative burden related to employment is reduced for the employer, while the employee becomes entitled to receive medical care, pension insurance and a jobseeker’s allowance.
France: Persistence of gender pay gap (13 November 2006)
In 2002, women’s total earnings per hour were, on average, 19% less than those of men in France. This gap can partly be explained by factors such as occupation, company size and incidence of career breaks. However, when all these factors are taken into account, there remains an 11% pay gap between men and women. The pay gap is particularly acute for women in management positions (19%) and for manual workers (15%), and tends to increase with age.
Bulgaria: High level of health and safety violations in construction (13 November 2006)
On 7 August 2006, the Executive Agency of the General Labour Inspectorate in Bulgaria reported on the findings of the recent national campaign on ‘Health and safety and labour relations in the construction sector’. Within the framework of the campaign, some 2,452 onsite inspections were carried out. The labour inspectors registered 16,280 offences at work sites against health and safety legislation and the Labour Code. A total of 15,778 warrants were issued to employers and 1,462 statements have been drawn up.
Austria: Job–skills mismatch among migrant workers (13 November 2006)
A new study published in August 2006 reveals the extent of, and the factors influencing, the under-utilisation of employees’ educational background in the Austrian labour market. The study refers to data from the last census carried out in May 2001. It shows that place of birth and citizenship are the most significant factors with regard to over-qualification in the job. Thus, the skills of migrant workers, either with or without Austrian citizenship, are not or only partly used in the workplace.
Netherlands: Prevalence of sickness absence and ‘presenteeism’ (06 November 2006)
Many research and intervention efforts have focused on preventing and reducing absence from work due to sickness. Although reduced absence from work appears to be profitable for the companies and organisations involved, this will not be the case if employees continue to work or return to work while still feeling sick – a concept known as ‘presenteeism’. An analytical follow-up of a national sample of workers in the Netherlands indicates that a vicious cycle is at work: burnout or exhaustion due to work increases sickness absence, which in turn increases the risk of subsequent presenteeism. The latter may eventually result in even higher levels of sickness levels.
Czech Republic: Bonuses for hazardous working conditions still prevalent (06 November 2006)
Legislation in the Czech Republic entitles employees to receive risk bonuses for work that is dangerous or that poses a risk to their health. The law explicitly allows for the determination of further bonus amounts under a collective agreement. This practice is widely used and consequently increases the financial attractiveness of jobs with difficult and hazardous working conditions.
Poland: Policies to encourage the return of emigrants (06 November 2006)
EU enlargement in 2004 has led to a substantial wave of migration out of Poland. Recent public opinion polls reveal that a large proportion of young people are seriously considering emigration as an option. In September 2006, the Institute of Public Affairs presented public policy recommendations aimed at encouraging emigrants back to Poland.
Finland: Changed attitudes towards older workers (30 October 2006)
According to a qualitative study on ageing workers, it appears that attitudes have changed and are more positive towards older staff. Appreciation of older workers, investing in their ability and knowledge and seeing them as a valuable resource is likely to become a new trend in working life. However, the study indicates that the reshaping of working life practices to foster long careers has only just begun.
Slovenia: Company conditions and employee satisfaction (30 October 2006)
Commitment to quality, innovation and initiative, motivation and commitment to the job, and affiliation and loyalty to the organisation are the highest ranked categories of organisational climate in Slovenian companies. The lowest ranking categories in terms of organisational climate are career development, remuneration and rewards, and internal communication and information. Furthermore, employees in Slovenian companies express high levels of satisfaction with co-workers and with stability of employment, while they are least satisfied with pay and promotion prospects.
Denmark: Integrating immigrants into labour market (30 October 2006)
A qualitative study undertaken by the National Institute of Social Research examines the impact of working conditions on the labour market integration of immigrants. Results of the study indicate that lack of role clarity, sense of community and harassment from clients/customers may contain ethnicity-specific dimensions. These factors all seem to evolve around communication difficulties in terms of divergent expectations in the Danish labour market, Danish language abilities and, in part, cultural/ethnic boundaries.
Spain: Slight decrease in wage inequality (30 October 2006)
More women are working in Spain today than in previous years and more workers have university degrees. Furthermore, people are staying in the same job for shorter periods. In general, it could be expected that these changes in the labour force would have increased wage variations and inequalities. However, despite all these changes, research from the Spanish Central Bank reveals that wage inequality in Spain has decreased slightly between 1995 and 2002, due mainly to changes in wage structure. Reduced investment returns to education and age partly explain this decrease in wage inequality.
United.Kingdom: Improvements in pay, working time and job security (30 October 2006)
Earlier this year, the Department of Trade and Industry published an analysis of employment trends based on official datasets. It showed improvements for most workers in the areas of pay, working time and job security.
United.Kingdom: Factors influencing take-up of paternity leave (23 October 2006)
In 2006, the Equal Opportunities Commission published new research on the take-up of parental leave, particularly paternity leave by fathers. The study combined data from two previous surveys investigating the take-up of parental leave from the perspectives of fathers and mothers respectively. The 2006 report focuses on fathers’ attitudes and practices within a family context. Financial constraints, employer practices and personal attitudes were found to play a major role in fathers’ decisions in relation to paternity leave.
Portugal: Occupational mobility of immigrant workers (23 October 2006)
Research into the occupational mobility of immigrant workers reveals that the growth of the foreign resident population has had significant impacts on the Portuguese labour market. The immigrant population has a substantially higher economic activity rate than the total population. Immigrants come mainly from eastern Europe, Africa and Brazil, and are generally hired in the construction and hotels and restaurants sectors. More than one third of companies surveyed stated that they would like to hire more immigrant workers.
Latvia: Analysing the socioeconomic dimensions of employment (23 October 2006)
In recent times, it has come to light that the government lacks adequate information about job creation, job retention and job losses, as well as occupational structures, and sectoral and regional aspects. This is needed for the purpose of drafting employment policy documents, in particular with a view to Latvia meeting the targets of the EU Lisbon Strategy. In order to fill this gap in knowledge, in 2004 the Ministry of Economy commissioned research into the socioeconomic aspects of employment, which would analyse the methodology used to capture employment statistics. The study includes wide ranging statistics on jobs and employment, and a detailed explanation of labour market data. It offers a unique combination of economic and statistical approaches for analysing labour market issues.
Lithuania: Bullying in the workplace (23 October 2006)
Most bullying in the workplace is carried out by managers and the problem is more prevalent in the public sector, according to research findings in Lithuania. A study was carried out in 2005 to analyse the issue and the extent of bullying, its causes and consequences, and factors particular to Lithuanian enterprises. The analysis was aimed at identifying measures to combat the problem, including the need for ethical management practices.
Estonia: Attitudes towards gender equality in the workplace (23 October 2006)
Although the gender gap in labour market participation has narrowed, gender differences in everyday experiences in the workplace and wage levels persist. Most men and a large proportion of women support the traditional division of labour, find differences in salaries justifiable and regard family and childcare as being mainly the responsibility of women. Meanwhile, the number of women preferring to work part time has increased.
Hungary: Employers satisfied with skills and abilities of young workers (16 October 2006)
According to a recent survey carried out in Hungary among 3,200 companies, apprentices and young skilled workers have improved their practical abilities, professional skills and theoretical knowledge between 2000 and 2005. Nevertheless, certain areas progressed more than others; for instance, foreign language skills and knowledge of mathematics and economics remain weak. Overall, young workers have a good work attitude and perform well in teams.
Spain: Sexual harassment of women in the workplace (16 October 2006)
Nearly 15% of Spanish women reported having suffered some form of sexual harassment at work during 2005. Sexual jokes, as well as inappropriate compliments and comments were the most common type of harassment reported. The role of companies in preventing and eliminating sexual harassment in the workplace appears to be rather limited in practice.
Germany: Views on retirement of middle-aged employees (16 October 2006)
A recent study reveals that the majority of middle-aged employees would welcome flexible retirement arrangements. A total of 77% of the employees surveyed stated that they would prefer to work until the age of 65 years which is the official retirement age. Working a reduced number of hours after a certain age and a greater appreciation of their work by employers were mentioned as major motivating factors for employees who would be willing to work until the official retirement age.
Cyprus: Low labour market participation among older workers (16 October 2006)
A study conducted by the Economic Research Centre of the University of Cyprus, on the subject of labour market participation and retirement decisions, highlights the low labour market participation rates of older workers. The study, the results of which were published in June 2006, is the first of its kind to examine the factors affecting labour market participation at a microeconomic level, in particular among people aged 55–64 years.
Malta: Latest findings on accidents at work (09 October 2006)
In the first quarter of 2006, three persons lost their lives as a result of workplace accidents in Malta while a total of 983 persons suffered non-fatal accidents at work. These are the findings of a news release concerning accidents at work, published by the National Statistics Office in May 2006. Many of these accidents occurred in the manufacturing and construction sectors, and mainly affected employees in elementary occupations.
France: Over one million workers have more than one employer (09 October 2006)
In 2005, workers with several employers and/or various occupations accounted for 1,126,000 people, representing 4.8% of the salaried population in France. The situation varies between those who have a single occupation with different employers and those who have more than one occupation. Those with a single occupation are mainly women, with lower qualifications and aged over 40 years, working in the services sector. The situation of the latter group of workers is more frequently by choice; they are also predominantly older workers but are more qualified and generally have a working week exceeding the legal 35 hours per week. Workers in both these groups are characterised as ‘pluriactive’ workers.
EU.LEVEL: Effectiveness of policies targeting specific groups of workers (09 October 2006)
According to the OECD Employment Outlook 2006, policies targeting specific groups of workers – such as women, older workers, young people and immigrants – help to tackle the barriers to participation in the labour market. However, the analysis shows that not all measures have proven to be effective.
Belgium: Night work and shift work cause high stress levels (09 October 2006)
A recent Belgian survey examines the stress levels of workers according to nine psychosocial risk factors. Among its findings, the study underlines the higher risk of exposure to stress at work among night and shift workers. Avoiding overtime and irregular working time schedules can help to minimise the stress levels of these workers.
Romania: Labour Inspectorate targets health and safety at work (02 October 2006)
During the first half of 2006, the Office of the Labour Inspectorate carried out a risk prevention monitoring programme to check compliance with workplace health and safety regulations. The resulting report indicates that the office is carrying out more control actions, reflecting a 30% increase in such measures compared with the previous year. In addition, the inspectorate imposed fines totalling a value 3.6 times greater than previously. The report also details the organisational, technical, and health and hygiene deficiencies frequently found in companies.
Poland: Workers still exposed to hazardous risks in the workplace (02 October 2006)
A report on working conditions recently published by the Polish Central Statistical Office presents a comprehensive analysis of the risks faced by employees in the workplace in 2005. The research indicates that some 12% of Polish employees work in hazardous conditions, which means that the scale of the problem has remained practically unchanged over the past few years. Some 20% of the employees working in such risky conditions are women. Of all the employees at risk in the workplace, the largest group was exposed to risks associated with the working environment, such as chemical substances, noise or unsuitable lighting.
Latvia: Long working hours and regular overtime (02 October 2006)
A recent study shows that Latvians work long hours; indeed, a significant proportion of employees work overtime on a regular basis. At the same time, more part-time positions have become available and people are taking on multiple jobs. Overall, working conditions are slow to improve. These are some of the conclusions of the study, which set out to assess employment and working conditions in Latvia before and immediately after its accession to the European Union.
Luxembourg: Extent of discrimination against older workers (02 October 2006)
In the spring of 2004, the Centre for Population, Poverty and Socioeconomic Policy Studies conducted a survey to examine employers’ views on older workers. A total of 25 statements were submitted to business managers with the aim of assessing the qualities and shortcomings generally attributed to older workers compared with young workers. The results show that 14% of employers have quite strong discriminatory views regarding older workers.
Luxembourg: Companies plan for an ageing workforce (02 October 2006)
The ageing of the workforce is an issue that all companies in Luxembourg must deal with. The Observatory of Professional Relations and Employment within the Ministry of Labour has launched a research programme into workforce ageing and retaining older workers in employment. A general analysis has identified the crucial role of the quality of working conditions in encouraging older workers to stay at work. However, a survey conducted among companies in Luxembourg shows that only a minority of them are improving the working conditions of older workers. Most of those that do so are companies that in general terms have a human resources policy aimed at ensuring a better quality of life at work.
Finland: Supervisors subject to increasing work demands (25 September 2006)
According to the Finnish Quality of Work Life Survey, expectations of supervisory work have grown and diversified. The increasing demands in working life have put the greatest pressure on supervisors and, the more subordinates a supervisor has, the heavier is their workload. Meanwhile, the organisation of supervisory work has changed considerably. While the number of employees in a supervisory position has increased, more supervisors have been assigned operational supervisory duties but without administrative subordinates.
Estonia: Trends in labour market participation, income and job satisfaction among non-nationals (25 September 2006)
A recent study by the Institute of International and Social Studies reveals that, although the labour market status of non-nationals remains low in Estonia, young non-nationals are advancing to higher positions. The study also highlights that the socioeconomic conditions of Estonian-Russians are becoming more equal to those of ethnic Estonians. However, compared to Estonians, Russians are less satisfied with their job, regardless of the type of occupation. Their income is strongly determined by their citizenship.
Denmark: High stress levels in financial services and insurance sector (25 September 2006)
A survey carried out by the Financial Services Union and the Danish Centre for Alternative Social Analysis examines the causes of consistently high levels of stress in the financial services and insurance sector. Comparing the figures with those of 2001, the trends indicate more standardised work for some employees but more highly flexible work for others – in the latter case, to the extent that the conditions of work are practically without limits. Such ‘limitless’ work, which seems to be on the rise, is a contributory factor in the increased prevalence of stress.
Czech Republic: Sexual harassment in the workforce (25 September 2006)
A total of 13% of women and 4% of men in the Czech Republic state that they have personal experience of sexual harassment in the workplace. In spite of this significant proportion, a number of public officials and even union representatives – whose role is to defend the interests of employees – believe that this social issue is not important and that it has been exaggerated, as the overall incidence level is small.
Bulgaria: Protection of child workers (25 September 2006)
In June 2006, the fifth World Day against child labour was held in Bulgaria under the slogan ‘The end of child labour – we can do it together’. Thus, Bulgaria supported the initiative of the International Labour Organisation, which aimed to raise awareness about the problem and about the global movement for abolition of child labour, especially its worst forms. At national level, laws are in place for the protection of minors, and the labour inspectorate ensures compliance.
Austria: Positive effects of works councils on working conditions (25 September 2006)
Employees in companies with works councils show higher job satisfaction and have higher salaries and greater job stability than staff in companies without works councils. These study findings can be used as a strong argument for the European social model, in which representative employee participation, social partnership and high standards of working conditions play a crucial role.
Romania: Downward trend in number of workplace accidents (19 September 2006)
In 2005, the number of persons involved in workplace accidents in Romania totalled 4,714, which continues the downward trend recorded from 2002 to 2005. The highest incidence of accidents continues to occur in the mining industry. Nevertheless, despite declining trends, the number of collective accidents and of employees affected by these categories of accidents has tended to increase.
Portugal: Integration of graduates into the labour market (19 September 2006)
The transition from university to working life is relatively easy for nearly half the graduates of the University of Lisbon, according to a report based on a 2004 survey on the subject. On average, female graduates take longer to find their first job, and male graduates earn more than their female counterparts in the last job declared. Most respondents are satisfied with several aspects of their jobs and aim to achieve a good work–life balance.
Poland: Survey highlights extent of undeclared work (19 September 2006)
More than twice as many men as women carry out unregistered work in Poland. Moreover, some 63% of those in undeclared work state that it is their main job. Education is an important factor in take-up of illegal work, while age also plays a role. These are among the findings of a 2004 survey by the Polish Central Statistical Office, the results of which were published in late 2005. The study covers various aspects of the informal labour market, including opinions on reasons for undertaking illegal employment.
EU.LEVEL: Commission to adopt new occupational health and safety strategy (19 September 2006)
The European Commission will soon unveil its proposals for a future health and safety regime appropriate to an enlarged Europe. Within the debate on the future direction of occupational health and safety, Europe’s trade unions are calling for a new strategy that is firmly supported by legislation. Employers, however, are arguing for a move away from the belief that legislation is the only valid means of dealing with occupational health and safety. Conditions at work are heavily dependent on the existence of well-structured health and safety practices. Major occupational health and safety challenges remain, including musculoskeletal disorders and the health and safety risks associated with working with chemicals.
Belgium: Role of career counselling as an employment strategy (19 September 2006)
A new study report from the Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School and the Catholic University of Leuven reveals that career counselling as an employment strategy is still in its infancy. Among initiatives for an active labour market policy, the Flemish government recently established the right for employees to individual career counselling. Nevertheless, the research concludes that an intensified action plan is needed to develop career counselling as an effective labour market instrument in the region.
France: Job prospects of young people of immigrant parents (12 September 2006)
The integration into the labour market of young people of immigrant parents remains a major problem in France. For these young people, the difficulty in finding work is compounded by resentment towards the working world and the feeling of being employed at a level below their competencies. Analyses based on the ‘Génération 98’ survey examine the occupational characteristics of young people in relation to their social paths, the professional status of their parents and their geographical origins.
France: Disparities in annual working hours by occupation (21 August 2006)
In 2003 and 2004, the annual average working time for full-time staff, excluding teachers, was 1,650 hours, equivalent to 35 hours and 52 minutes per week. However, this average disguises important disparities, by sector, sex and company size. According to occupation, the working time can vary from 1,340 hours to 2,190 hours per year.
Luxembourg: Survey reveals ‘moderate’ levels of occupational stress (21 August 2006)
In Luxembourg, around one in four working people experiences a high or very high level of stress, according to the findings of a 2005 survey. The survey examines disparities that emerge in relation to sex, occupational and educational level, and sector. It also identifies diverse stress factors and their impact on stress levels. An important aspect of the study was its focus on people’s perceptions of occupational stress.
United.Kingdom: Pregnancy discrimination in the workplace (14 August 2006)
Almost half of all pregnant women and new mothers in the United Kingdom experience discrimination at work, according to a recent survey carried out on behalf of the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC). The survey findings support the EOC’s view that more ought to be done to raise awareness among employers of their legal responsibilities and how they might manage pregnancy more effectively.
Malta: Participation in adult education and lifelong learning (14 August 2006)
Participation rates in adult education centres are increasing in Malta, with subjects such as handicrafts, computing, and arts and humanities representing the most popular areas of study. This is the main finding of a 2005 survey on adult education and lifelong learning in Malta, conducted by the National Statistics Office.
Germany: Study analyses labour costs in manufacturing and services (14 August 2006)
In Germany’s private economy, total hourly labour costs share a middle ranking among a list of European countries in relation to the EU15 average when the services sector is taken into account. This is the result of a June 2006 study by the Macroeconomic Policy Institute of the Hans-Böckler Foundation (IMK). Based on a survey that follows the Eurostat labour cost index methodology, the IMK findings challenge the belief that labour costs in the German manufacturing sector are extraordinarily high. They also reveal that labour costs in the country’s private services sector are lower than in other western and northern European Member States.
Latvia: Integration of wheelchair users in the workforce (09 August 2006)
A recent study by the Baltic Institute of Social Sciences looks at the barriers to integrating wheelchair users in the workforce. Only 20% of disabled wheelchair users in Latvia are employed. The level of employment is even lower among female wheelchair users and non-nationals. While 74.3% of wheelchair users who are currently unemployed would like to have a job, only 41.5% are actively seeking work. The study found that, in addition to objective circumstances, such as mobility problems and environmental accessibility, there are also subjective factors influencing the integration of wheelchair users into the labour market. These include employers’ attitudes towards wheelchair users and the passivity of disabled people themselves or their reluctance to get involved in working life.
Spain: Employment situation of young people (09 August 2006)
Young people aged between 15 and 29 years represent 21% of the total Spanish population. As such, they represent a critical part of the national workforce. Nevertheless, according to a new report on youth employment, this group of persons have difficulty in accessing the labour market, due to social and economic constraints .
Estonia: Changing attitudes towards the illegal economy (09 August 2006)
According to a recent study, the number of workers receiving undeclared wages has declined over the past seven years, amounting to 9%–15% of employees in 2005. Moreover, the consumption of illegal goods and services has decreased significantly. In addition, public opinion has become less tolerant of the illegal economy, with people in favour of stricter control over enterprises, as well as tougher sanctions in cases of violation of the law.
EU.LEVEL: Commission report highlights limited progress in gender equality (04 August 2006)
A recent report on gender equality by the European Commission highlights the fact that little progress has been made on improving women’s position in the labour market. The report shows that, irrespective of the slight increase in the employment participation of women, they still continue to earn less and have more limited career opportunities.
Hungary: Organisational culture and efficiency in the civil service (04 August 2006)
A recent survey on Hungarian ministries shows that a goals and production oriented organisational culture has no great impact on efficiency levels in the civil service. In addition, it highlights that individual satisfaction with the workplace does not increase efficiency either.
Italy: High rates of MSD among supermarket workers (04 August 2006)
A survey among supermarket workers in the Marche region of Italy, carried out by the local branch of a trade union, finds high rates of work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSD). Repetitive work is a feature of occupations within the sector; workers, however, have little awareness of risk. This seems to be at least partly due to their work status, as many of the employees have only been in their jobs for a short period and have non-standard work contracts.
Slovakia: Employees’ attitudes towards health and safety at work (04 August 2006)
In 2004, a survey of employees’ attitudes towards improving occupational safety and health (OSH) was carried out in Slovakia. The findings reveal employees’ attitudes towards OSH and their desire for decent working conditions. The survey results provide a useful reference in preparing proposals and recommendations for increasing public awareness of and provoking interest in OSH.
Denmark: New insights into causes of burnout (04 August 2006)
Research by the National Institute of Occupational Health has revealed causes of burnout that have not been investigated before. One of the findings indicates that changes in the levels of burnout appear to predict changes in the levels of sickness absence in a three-year follow-up period.
Slovakia: Health and safety risks of employees in health and social services institutions (18 July 2006)
A survey conducted by the Occupational Safety Research and Educational Institute looks into the safety levels of working conditions in institutions providing health and social services. The results of the survey provide an insight into the specific working conditions of employees in these institutions and identify ways to promote a safer working environment. Based on the survey’s results, measures to improve working conditions in health and social services institutions have been proposed.
Slovenia: Vocational training in Slovenian organisations (18 July 2006)
In 2004, companies in Slovenia with more than 200 employees on average spent 2.8% of their annual payroll costs on training 46.2% of their employees. Managers received most of the training, followed by professionals and technicians. The annual duration of training of clerical and manual workers was overall about half of that of the first two staff categories. Line managers significantly influenced the assessment of training needs, while human resources departments organised, prepared and carried out the training programmes.
Finland: Significance of work and its effect on employees (18 July 2006)
Finnish employees feel that it is acceptable for their work to be reasonably demanding, as long as the working conditions are satisfactory and the content of the work is meaningful to them. Employees are reasonably satisfied that their work is meaningful. The operating procedures and management practices used in any organisation have a considerable impact on staff perceptions of the significance of their work.
Finland: Returns for investment in education still high (18 July 2006)
The average returns for investment in education have remained high in Finland. A prolonged education is still a good investment for an individual in terms of employability and income level. However, the personal returns for third-level graduates are not as good as previously. This is probably because the proportion of those with graduate level education has grown rapidly among young employees, especially women. The growth in investment in education has a significant effect on the national economy. A high level of education among the labour force facilitates the implementation of new technologies and adaptation to organisational changes.
Denmark: Pressure of work is main barrier to further education (18 July 2006)
Acting on a mandate from the tripartite committee on lifelong education and qualifications, the Danish Technological Institute has mapped the motivational factors for and barriers to employees’ participation in further education. Personal development, professional advancement and maintaining knowledge and capabilities are found to be the main reasons why employees participate in supplementary educational activities. However, both pressure of work and being busy at work appear to create a barrier for the competence and skills development of approximately one third of employees.
Cyprus: Women’s access to top management in financial services and semi-state bodies (18 July 2006)
Women hold only 5.2% of senior management positions in semi-state organisations, while in financial services they occupy 27.5% of key positions. Almost two thirds of women in the latter sector believe that they have fewer opportunities for career advancement than men have. These are among the findings of a 2005 study, conducted by the Cyprus Employers and Industrialists Federation, on women’s access to senior management positions in these two sectors. The study identifies the reasons behind women’s restricted promotion prospects and puts forward measures for improving the situation.
Austria: Changing profile of insurance sector field workers (18 July 2006)
External fieldwork in the insurance sector is characterised by long working hours, increasing performance-based demands and time pressure, as well as a high degree of autonomy over work. Consequently, field agents have mixed feelings about the occupation. These are among the findings of a 2005 survey, which examined the working conditions of insurance sector workers.
Greece: Widening gap between skills demand and supply (11 July 2006)
Companies believe that the education system in Greece is still inadequate, with the knowledge and skills required not being met by the type and quality of skills on offer. This finding is revealed in a recent survey by the Federation of Greek Industries. The survey report makes recommendations aimed at narrowing the skills gap.
Czech Republic: Fathers taking parental leave: impact on work–life balance (11 July 2006)
Only 1.4% of parental leave is taken by men in the Czech Republic, according to qualitative and quantitative research that investigated the family situation where the father takes responsibility for all-day childcare. Results from the qualitative part of the survey reveal the most common strategies that partners use to share the period of parental leave (three to four years), and the main reasons for the gender breakdown of parental leave.
Spain: Working time organisation under review (11 July 2006)
The traditional organisation of working time is currently being discussed in Spain. While working time patterns remain the same as they were 50 years ago, the structure of Spanish society has changed considerably. This imbalance creates stress for workers and affects society in different ways, leading to, for example, reduced labour productivity, weaker social cohesion and a decreased birth rate.
Germany: Work–life balance policies: a win-win situation for all (11 July 2006)
Some three quarters of German employees regard family-friendly policies as advantageous not only for themselves, but also for employers. The results of a recent study reveal that enterprises particularly benefit from outcomes such as increased employee motivation, reduced staff turnover, an improved work atmosphere and less family-related absenteeism.
Germany: Comparative survey on operating hours and working time (11 July 2006)
For the first time, a survey provides comparable data on the operating hours of companies in all sectors and of all sizes in six EU Member States. It also examines working time arrangements to manage extended operating hours. The survey findings show that operating hours of German companies are among the longest, and that their working time arrangements are among the most flexible.
United.Kingdom: Survey explores age-related policies, practices and preferences (03 July 2006)
In 2006, the UK government published new research examining whether and to what extent current employment policies and practices may be discriminatory on the grounds of age. It found that a series of practices – in areas such as recruitment, pay, training, retirement and redundancy – could potentially be age discriminatory. Moreover, there is still a lack of awareness among employers about the Employment Equality Regulations coming into force in October 2006.
Italy: Changing profile of working time flexibility (03 July 2006)
The second ad hoc Labour Force Survey module on atypical labour contracts and working time, carried out in 2004, reveals significant changes in the take-up of flexibility options. A previously widespread use of overtime has been replaced by part-time contracts and working time flexibility. It is mainly women who avail of part-time work, although in general part-time work is less prevalent in Italy than in the EU in general. With regard to working time flexibility, workers still have little control over their working time arrangements. These changes seem to be more influenced by the 1997 labour market reform and stagnant economic performance than by the 2003 labour market reform.
Portugal: Training and job rotation scheme launched (07 June 2006)
In February 1999, the Portuguese government launched a vocational training and job rotation scheme, aimed at promoting training among employees, increasing the employability of unemployed people and modernising companies. A recent report evaluates the experiences and outcomes of the organisations involved in this scheme, as well as those of the workers and the unemployed, temporary substitute workers.
Lithuania: Labour law violations and psychological harassment at work (02 June 2006)
More than 43,000 violations of labour law were identified in Lithuanian enterprises during the first quarter of 2004. The most common infringements concerned working time and delayed payment of wages. Moreover, unofficial employment seems to be on the increase. These are among the findings of research based on State Labour Inspectorate data as well as the results of a questionnaire survey of regional inspectors, trade union/employee representatives and employers. The survey also examined the impact of psychological harassment on employees’ work, motivation and health.
Romania: Working conditions in Romania (02 June 2006)
More than half of the people working in Romania report poor working conditions, a 2005 survey by the National Institute of Statistics reveals. The survey identifies differences in perceived working conditions between the public and private sectors, and assesses key factors contributing to people’s job satisfaction or dissatisfaction.
Poland: Marginal decline in number of workplace accidents (02 June 2006)
In 2005, the total number of workplace accidents recorded in Poland was just over 84,400 accidents – a decrease of almost 3,000 accidents compared with 2004. As in previous years, the highest rate of accidents occurred among males employed in private sector industrial processing companies. Although the overall number of accidents has declined, the trends in workplace accidents are similar to previous years.
Malta: Reconciling work and family life (02 June 2006)
The current sharing of family responsibilities and working arrangements aimed at reconciling work and family life was the theme of a news release published by the National Statistics Office. Most workers with childcaring responsibilities do not make use of paid childcare and instead leave their children with their relatives. The data reveal that many Maltese workers cannot avail of flexible working time arrangements for family reasons; this restriction is experienced more often by women than by men.
Slovenia: Combining work and family life (02 June 2006)
Parental leave and responsibility for childcare is often associated exclusively with mothers, and this can negatively impinge on the job and promotion opportunities of women in the labour market. Empirical evidence from a study on how parents divide work and family time reveals that mothers of young children had substantially more negative employment and career experiences than fathers of young children, with divorced or single mothers aged up to 30 years being most affected.
Ireland: Poor quality of working life experienced by managers (02 June 2006)
Both newly appointed and senior managers perceive the quality of their working lives to be low, according to the findings of a research study on the perceived quality of Irish managers’ working lives. Nonetheless, comparing the managers’ perceptions of the quality of their working lives with the findings of a study on the perceived quality of life experienced by people suffering from serious illnesses, the lead researcher, Professor Ciaran O’Boyle, suggested that some managers may need to change their frame of reference.
Belgium: Impact of time pressure on lifestyle (01 June 2006)
Having to combine a paid job with rearing children, keeping up with hobbies and coping with domestic tasks can result in many people feeling frustrated due to a lack of time. Being too busy to do things well can also give rise to a sense of dissatisfaction. A research study has investigated job-related and other factors that cause people to experience time pressure. One of its conclusions is that professional and managerial staff experience greater feelings of time pressure than other occupational groups.
Romania: Improving access to employment and combating child labour (11 September 2006)
In a 2005 survey on attitudes to education and training, child labour and undeclared work, most survey respondents underlined the importance of education in enabling access to the labour market. The study analysed labour market trends in terms of the gap between demand and supply, particularly in relation to qualification levels. Focusing on disadvantaged areas within four regions – including the capital, Bucharest – the analysis identified significant information and education gaps, as well as ambivalence towards some forms of child labour.
Germany: Employability and competence development in temporary agency work (11 September 2006)
Temporary agency work does not function as a gateway to the labour market, according to the results of a 2005 study. Workers on such contracts receive less training and competence development, and their employability is at risk.
EU.LEVEL: Companies and workers benefit from diversity policies (11 September 2006)
Adopting diversity policies offers clear benefits for companies and the workforce, such as resolving labour shortages, greater product innovation, enhanced marketing opportunities and a better corporate image. The findings of a recent study by the European Commission reveal additional positive business outcomes, such as improved communication processes and managerial styles, as well as reduced staff turnover and absenteeism.
Germany: Job satisfaction high despite lack of recognition (11 September 2006)
Key factors determining quality of work are job and income security, and social, mental and health aspects of work. Despite a high degree of satisfaction, motivation and identification with work, employees complain of a lack of recognition. These are the findings of a 2004 survey in Germany, which explores perspectives on quality in work.
Netherlands: Factors influencing workers to continue working until retirement age (08 September 2006)
About 40% of employees in the Netherlands report that they are able to work until the age of 65 years, but only around 20% of all employees are willing to do so. Furthermore, only 13% are both willing and able to work until they are 65 years old. Health and working conditions play an important role in this regard. These conclusions are drawn from the 2005 Netherlands Working Conditions Survey, carried out among 23,400 Dutch employees.
Netherlands: Sickness absence: self-reported and objective risk factors (25 July 2006)
Absence from work in the Netherlands is partly caused by the work itself and therefore work-related interventions could be part of the solution. Such interventions should not only be aimed at risk factors highlighted by employees themselves, but should also focus on those factors that are found to be important in a more objective and evidence-based way. For instance, employees may be reluctant to attribute sickness absence to emotionally demanding factors or intimidation by colleagues or superiors, and are more likely to overestimate the psychological and physical demands of the job.
France: Social partners transpose European telework agreement (11 July 2006)
Telework is becoming increasingly widespread in France as a means of attracting more people into the labour market and of offering more flexible work solutions. Moreover, advances in technology facilitate a greater take-up of telework. In the light of the European framework agreement on telework, the French social partners have signed an agreement at national level, covering specific aspects of this form of work and ensuring equal rights for teleworkers.
France: Signature du premier accord entre partenaires sociaux transposant un accord européen sur le télétravail (11 July 2006)
Cette information est publiée dans la langue originale. Elle a été diffusée par l'Observatoire européen des conditions de travail (EWCO) comme service à ses utilisateurs. EWCO est un projet de la Fondation européenne pour l'amélioration des conditions de vie et de travail. Néanmoins, cette information n’a été ni éditée ni approuvée par la Fondation, ce qui veut dire que celle-ci n’est pas responsable de son contenu ou de son exactitude. Ce texte relève du Centre national EWCO qui a fourni l'information. Suivant l'accord européen du télétravail en juillet 2002, les partenaires sociaux ont donc signé un accord interprofessionnel sur le télétravail en France. L'accord définit les principes fondamentaux selon lesquels le télétravail doit se pratiquer et garantit aux télétravailleurs les mêmes droits qu'aux autres travailleurs.
EU.LEVEL: Earnings disparities in Europe (11 July 2006)
The Structure of Earnings Survey provides harmonised data on individual earnings across Europe, identifying pay gaps by country and sector. It also highlights earnings disparities due to company-related and individual factors. The issue of earnings inequality is fundamental to quality of work and employment; the earnings survey, therefore, contributes to a greater understanding of some of the key elements of the Lisbon strategy.
Netherlands: Role of physical activity in preventing mental health problems (11 July 2006)
Mental health problems are a major concern to employers, employees and occupational health professionals in the Netherlands. Employees developing these problems often have to take long-term leave from work, which may lead to disability. About a third of the total disability inflow is due to psychological disorders. Results of research carried out over a three-year period suggest that strenuous leisure-time physical activity positively counteracts the development of mental health problems, poor general health and long-term absenteeism due to mental health disorders. Workers with sedentary jobs appear to benefit most from strenuous leisure-time physical activity.
Finland: Fixed-term contracts still common in public sector (01 June 2006)
Although the use of fixed-term contracts has decreased in Finland since its peak in 1997, it is still widespread by European standards. A recent study divides fixed-term employment into two categories: conventional and modern. Unlike conventional fixed-term employment, modern fixed-term contracts are used for jobs and tasks that do not intrinsically require them. This applies especially to women working in the public sector. Moreover, tightened legislation concerning the use of fixed-term contracts has led to an increased use of temporary agency work instead.
Germany: Impact of flexible working hours on health (01 June 2006)
A high degree of variability in working hours has been found to correlate with increased risks for health and psychosocial well-being, especially if the variability is company controlled rather than being of the employee’s choosing.
Netherlands: The 24-hour economy not widespread (01 June 2006)
Some 74% of workers in the Netherlands usually work standard hours, while 15% normally work at weekends, 14% in the evening and 4% at night. Weekend work is frequently carried out by younger people. The sectors most associated with weekend work are: policing, nursing and elder care, hotels and restaurants, agriculture and retail. Overall, it appears that the 24-hour economy is not yet widespread in the Netherlands.
EU.LEVEL: Decent work - Safe work (29 May 2006)
Some 2.2 million people worldwide die of work-related accidents and diseases each year, according to data from the International Labour Organisation. The figures indicate a slightly rising trend. Estimates for the EU15 suggest that 120,000 deaths occur each year due to work-related diseases, and 4.4 million accidents lead to three or more days' absence from work.
Romania: Upgrading the textiles, clothing and footwear sector (12 May 2006)
The Romanian textiles, clothing and footwear sector exports more than 92% of its output to the EU market, according to the findings of a 2005 study. The study examines developments in the sector and analyses its national economic importance. It also assesses a number of ‘decent work’ parameters, such as union density, non-discrimination and working time. Overall, the report recommends that the sector be upgraded as part of a long-term strategy. Measures to achieve this include investing in research and development, and in human resources, focusing more on the domestic market, as well as implementing quality standards.
France: Postural and articular stress at work (12 May 2006)
Almost half of all workers in France, or 8.4 million people, are exposed to at least one type of severe postural or articular stress, affecting more than two thirds of manual workers and one in five professionals. Postural stress can be divided into three main categories: tiring positions, strain-inducing postures and vertebral stress. The consequences for workers’ health depend on various factors, including the duration of exposure.
Romania: More investment in continuing vocational training needed (12 May 2006)
Significant gaps remain in the provision of continuing vocational training (CVT) in Romania, the results of a 2004 survey reveal. Some 53% of employees had to train themselves to keep up with technological developments in their company, and only 25% of companies had offered any CVT in the past two years. The survey identified low income and high costs as key barriers to access to training. A series of recommendations address future plans for continuing vocational training.
Germany: Workplace legislation in small and medium-sized enterprises (24 March 2006)
A report on the implementation of workplace legislation, particularly in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), offers suggestions for reorganising legal regulations and for special measures to help companies to comply with the law.
Spain: Reconciling work and family life in the financial services sector (24 March 2006)
Two of the largest Spanish banks, BBVA and Banco Popular, are the first companies in Spain’s financial services sector to introduce plans aimed at a better work–life balance. These plans have been negotiated with the employee representatives, and include a wide array of measures.
Italy: Parental leave and work–life balance (24 March 2006)
Parental leave and sick leave arrangements are taken up by about 40% of eligible women and 5% of eligible men, a report by the Italian national statistics office (Istituto nazionale di statistica, ISTAT) reveals. Moreover, while the proportion of women working in paid employment is growing, women still carry out almost 75% of household work – although men have marginally increased their participation in household work. However, the report reveals that a substantial number of applications for parental leave on the part of male workers have been turned down by the employer.
Sweden: Working time after parental leave (24 March 2006)
Significant differences exist in the proportion of women working full time before and after taking parental leave for their first child, a recently published report reveals. The report also highlights working time differences by sector and occupation level.
Netherlands: Reduced work-related stress in the hotel and restaurant sector (24 February 2006)
Work-related stress in the hotel and restaurant sector in the Netherlands declined by 13.2% in the four-year period between 2000 and 2004, partly due to a tripartite voluntary covenant on reducing work-related stress. The parties involved were the employer organisations and trade unions active in the sector, as well as the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment. When the covenant period ended in 2004, the Ministry withdrew its immediate involvement, and the social partners continued with a new and promising way of working together.
Hungary: Increased demand for part-time work and ‘annualisation’ of working time (17 February 2006)
Current labour law in Hungary does not appear to offer sufficient flexibility for employers. There is greater demand for two main forms of flexible work organisation: part-time work and ‘annualisation’ (calculating working time over the year), the latter of which is a useful means of managing seasonal fluctuations. Typical sectors seeking greater flexibility are farming, food processing, construction, commerce, catering and tourism.
Denmark: Link between quality of work environment and size of workplace (15 February 2006)
The worst physical work environment can be found among male workers in small privately owned enterprises, according to a 2005 study. However, these workers experience a better psychosocial work environment than employees in larger enterprises, presumably due to closer personal relations and relations between management and staff.
Estonia: Employee training in small and medium-sized enterprises (13 February 2006)
Employees from 61% of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) participated in different training courses during the last year. Various types of training are preferred in different companies. These are among the findings of a 2005 study investigating the main characteristics of employee training in SMEs.
Italy: Work accidents in the transport industry (10 February 2006)
The number of reported accidents in the Italian transport industry shows a decline in the last three years; however, levels are still higher than the average in the Italian workplace, and the number of fatal accidents is still increasing. This is despite the introduction of an EU standard road code in 2003. Nonetheless, conflicting estimates about the size of the transport industry indicate that it is necessary to evaluate such trends with caution.
Sweden: Working conditions for employees with disabilities (08 February 2006)
Every sixth employed person has one or more disabilities, a recent survey reveals. Almost half of them consider their ability to work to be reduced.
France: Non-nationals at risk of unemployment and precarious employment (06 February 2006)
Non-nationals or people of foreign origin face higher levels of unemployment and job insecurity on average than French citizens by birth, especially in certain districts in underprivileged urban areas.
Czech.Republic: Gender differences in performance motivation (23 January 2006)
Men and women differ in their perceptions of what is important and motivating for good work performance, a Czech survey reveals. The distribution of both intrinsic and extrinsic rewards should, therefore, be tied to the specific needs or preferences of men and women.
Portugal: Work–life balance in the ICT and retail sectors (18 January 2006)
In the Portuguese ICT and retail trade sectors, women in particular suffer from a poor work–life balance, research carried out between 2000 and 2004 has found. Occupational and educational level, working hours and contractual status influence the possibility of hiring domestic help and, by consequence, the possibility for women to advance in their career.
Denmark: Outlook for occupational risk trends (13 January 2006)
A report published by the Danish Working Environment Authority investigates the relationship between changes in employment structure, new job profiles and occupational risk factors. It is estimated that, in the near future, there will be increased risk of physical inactivity, psychosocial risk factors and monotonous strain from working with computers. Moreover, the persistence of traditional work factors should not be neglected.
Hungary: Hazardous workplaces (09 January 2006)
Work safety inspectors carry out regular assessments of company premises in Hungary. When they find any kind of offence against the Labour Protection Act, they impose a penalty. The sum accumulated from these fines will be distributed among those who successfully tender to implement work safety improvement measures.
Austria: Quality of work in call centres (03 January 2006)
The Austrian call centre sector is characterised by atypical work, low income and high staff turnover, and mainly employs female workers. Furthermore, there are key differences between inhouse call centres and subcontracting companies.