Decision-makers approached minimum wage setting for 2021 cautiously due to the economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic. Despite this, nominal statutory minimum wages rose in most Member States and the UK, although at lower rates than in recent years.
The massive and rapid adoption of telework in 2020 in response to the COVID-19 lockdowns exposed gaps in the legislation governing telework arrangements across the EU Member States. In some cases, there was no regulation in place; in others, it was too restrictive. Governments scrambled to put temporary measures in place to cover the emergency situation and the urgent need to enable workers to work from home. Now that the pandemic is receding and wholesale telework seems to be here to stay, governments are faced with the need to properly regulate such arrangements. Member States are following different paths, but the EU might step in to promote some level of standardisation.
The third round of Eurofound's e-survey, fielded in February and March 2021, sheds light on the social and economic situation of people across Europe following nearly a full year of living with COVID-19 restrictions. This report analyses the main findings and tracks ongoing developments and trends across the 27 EU Member States since the survey was first launched in April 2020.
The enormity of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the lives and work of Europeans is hard to capture, but Eurofound’s priority in 2020 was to record and assess the experience of this societal upheaval across the EU Member States in all its detail, variety and modulation. Living and working in Europe 2020 provides a snapshot of how the COVID-19 confinement measures changed employment, work and quality of life in Europe, as gathered by Eurofound’s research activities in 2020.
The COVID-19 crisis had a significant impact on wages and wage setting across Europe in 2020. The uncertain economic scenario, together with the difficulties inherent in online bargaining, led to a general postponement of collective agreements to 2021, especially at company level. Real wages maintained a positive trend during 2020 in most EU countries, with just modest increases, while higher increases were observed in the public sector.
On 9 May, the Conference on the Future of Europe will get underway. Floated well before the COVID-19 outbreak, its timing in the wake of the seismic shifts precipitated by the pandemic, and its implementation alongside the European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan, means that the outcomes could be far-reaching.
The pandemic has had differential impacts on women. Raised consciousness about them must be applied to advance gender equality in recovery measures. All crises have a strongly gendered impact and none more so than the current pandemic, across a range of indicators. While the virus itself seems to take a greater toll on men than women when it comes to fatalities, women appear to have been worse affected in terms of labour market impact.
A first analysis of developments in working life in 2020 shows that the COVID-19 pandemic had a considerable impact on social dialogue and collective bargaining in the EU, Norway and the UK, albeit to varying degrees. While in some countries, standard procedures were by and large maintained, in others, tripartite consultation was sidelined in the face of time pressure and an uncertain economic environment. Collective bargaining was often postponed or suspended indefinitely, especially in those sectors that were hit hard by government-imposed lockdowns. The number of renewed collective agreements decreased sharply in some countries.
EU Member States acted swiftly in the early phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, introducing measures aimed at cushioning the impact of the crisis on society, the economy and the labour market. In some countries, policies targeted businesses and employers directly; elsewhere, employees and self-employed people in sectors negatively affected by lockdowns were given dedicated support first.
A first analysis of working life policies and developments in 2020 shows that the COVID-19 pandemic has in some cases speeded up and in other cases slowed down several policy developments in the EU, Norway and the UK, albeit to varying degrees, and dependent on national contexts. Increased teleworking led to a number of accelerated policy developments to address the new work reality for many employees.
The European Restructuring Monitor (ERM) has reported on the employment impact of large-scale business restructuring since 2002. This publication series include the ERM reports, as well as blogs, articles and working papers on restructuring-related events in the EU27 and Norway.
Eurofound’s European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS) paints a wide-ranging picture of Europe at work across countries, occupations, sectors and age groups. This series consists of findings from the European Working Conditions Telephone Survey (EWCTS) 2021, an extraordinary edition conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey was first carried out in 1990.
This publication series gathers all overview reports on developments in working life, annual reviews in industrial relations and working conditions produced by Eurofound on the basis of national contributions from the Network of Eurofound Correspondents (NEC). Since 1997, these reports have provided overviews of the latest developments in industrial relations and working conditions across the EU and Norway. The series may include recent ad hoc articles written by members of the NEC.
Eurofound’s work on COVID-19 examines the far-reaching socioeconomic implications of the pandemic across Europe as they continue to impact living and working conditions. A key element of the research is the e-survey, launched in April 2020, with five rounds completed at different stages during 2020, 2021 and 2022. This is complemented by the inclusion of research into the ongoing effects of the pandemic in much of Eurofound’s other areas of work.
Eurofound's representativeness studies are designed to allow the European Commission to identify the ‘management and labour’ whom it must consult under article 154 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). This series consists of studies of the representativeness of employer and worker organisations in various sectors.
This series reports on developments in minimum wage rates across the EU, including how they are set and how they have developed over time in nominal and real terms. The series explores where there are statutory minimum wages or collectively agreed minimum wages in the Member States, as well as minimum wage coverage rates by gender.
The European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS) launched in 1990 and is carried out every five years, with the latest edition in 2015. It provides an overview of trends in working conditions and quality of employment for the last 30 years. It covers issues such as employment status, working time duration and organisation, work organisation, learning and training, physical and psychosocial risk factors, health and safety, work–life balance, worker participation, earnings and financial security, work and health, and most recently also the future of work.
Eurofound’s Flagship report series 'Challenges and prospects in the EU' comprise research reports that contain the key results of multiannual research activities and incorporate findings from different related research projects. Flagship reports are the major output of each of Eurofound’s strategic areas of intervention and have as their objective to contribute to current policy debates.
Eurofound’s European Company Survey (ECS) maps and analyses company policies and practices which can have an impact on smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, as well as the development of social dialogue in companies. This series consists of outputs from the ECS 2019, the fourth edition of the survey. The survey was first carried out in 2004–2005 as the European Survey on Working Time and Work-Life Balance.
This series reports on and updates latest information on the involvement of national social partners in policymaking. The series analyses the involvement of national social partners in the implementation of policy reforms within the framework of social dialogue practices, including their involvement in elaborating the National Reform Programmes (NRPs).
In responding to Russia’s war against Ukraine, the EU activated its Temporary Protection Directive (TPD) for people who fled the country, allowing them to settle in the EU and to access basic public services and the labour market. By spring 2023, more than 4.5 million people had made use of the TPD or similar national protection schemes in the EU. In 2022, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights conducted an online survey among people displaced from Ukraine. Eurofound has analysed the survey results on their experiences when seeking to access employment.
Eurofound's annual review of minimum wages reports on the development of statutory and collectively agreed minimum wages across the EU and the processes through which they were set. The focus of this year’s report is on the impact of high inflation on the setting of minimum wage rates. In addition, new figures on the net value of minimum wages are presented, along with the latest policy-relevant research in the EU Member States and Norway.
This report explores the potential socio-economic implications of the transition to a climate-neutral economy on different EU regions and groups of people. It adopts a foresight approach to envision potential actions that can be taken to shape the future. After consulting with stakeholders and experts, three scenarios were developed to consider emerging economic and social inequalities at EU and regional level. The report includes policy pointers which outline measures to be taken to achieve a just transition to a sustainable, climate-neutral economy where no one is left behind.
The report investigates the involvement of social partners in the just transition to a climate-neutral economy, with a particular focus on the territorial just transition plans (TJTPs). These TJTPs aim to support regions that are more negatively affected by the just transition and were agreed in a dialogue between the Member States and the European Commission. They provide support to workers in terms of retraining, relocation and securing new jobs for those who are about to become redundant.
Building on previous work by Eurofound, this report will investigate intergenerational dynamics over time. During the 2008 double-dip recession, worrying intergenerational divides appeared in many Member States, and while some of the economic and social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is universal, early data suggests disparities across demographic cohorts. Eurofound will examine how different age groups may have been affected in terms of their health, labour market participation, quality of life and financial needs, both in the short term and in the long term.
The COVID-19 pandemic triggered an extraordinary level of provision of social services across the EU. Healthcare and care providers carried much of the burden and, together with essential services, played a crucial role in getting citizens through the crisis. This report explores how public services adapted to the new reality and what role was played by the digital transformation of services. The aim is to contribute to the documentation and analysis of changes in funding, delivery and use of healthcare and social services during the pandemic.
This report explores how environmental performance has converged – or diverged – among the EU Member States since the early 2000s. With environmental goals piling up at the EU level, is it reasonable to expect Member States to adhere to this emerging EU environmental aquis? And, just as importantly, can we expect Member States to reach these goals at the same time? This report attempts to provide answers to these and other questions high on the political agenda.
This report investigates the potential individual and societal impacts of labour market insecurity, focusing on workers with non-permanent contracts, part-time and self-employed workers, and workers who perceive their job as insecure. It explores the impact of labour market insecurities on health and well-being, social exclusion, trust in people and the perception of fairness, as well as trust in institutions. Policies aimed at reducing labour market instability following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic are also presented.
Following the COVID-19 pandemic, the rise in telework and other flexible working patterns has increased concerns about the ‘always on’ work culture, which can result in extra – often unpaid –working hours. One way of tackling this is for workers to have the right to disconnect. Drawing on a survey of HR managers and employees, this report explores legislation across EU Member States introducting the right to disconnect. It assesses its implementation in company policies and its impact on working time, work–life balance, health and well-being and workplace satisfaction.
Following the COVID-19 pandemic and the energy crisis triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, inflation has soared in the EU with the costs of energy and food prices rising to their highest levels in decades. While EU institutions forecast that inflation will slowly decline from 2025, collective bargaining rounds in 2022 have been unable to adapt to rising inflation and real wage growth has remained below inflation, impacting people with low incomes in particular.