European Working Conditions Surveys (EWCS)

Since its launch in 1990, the European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS) has provided an overview of working conditions in Europe.

Survey objectives

The main objectives of the survey are to:

  • assess and quantify working conditions of both employees and the self-employed across Europe on a harmonised basis
  • analyse relationships between different aspects of working conditions
  • identify groups at risk and issues of concern as well as of progress
  • monitor trends by providing homogeneous indicators on these issues
  • contribute to European policy development on quality of work and employment issues

Focus of survey

The scope of the survey questionnaire has widened substantially since the first edition, aiming to provide a comprehensive picture of the everyday reality of men and women at work. Gender mainstreaming has been an important concern for recent reviews of the questionnaire.

Themes covered include 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, as well as work and health.

Scope of survey

In each wave a random sample of workers (employees and self-employed) has been interviewed face to face. Following the European enlargements and interest from the EFTA countries the geographical coverage of the survey has expanded:

  • EWCS 2021 extraordinary edition: Telephone survey in 36 countries, including the EU Member States, the United Kingdom, Norway, Switzerland, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia
  • EWCS 2020: 37 countries, including the EU Member States, Norway, Switzerland, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Eurofound had to terminate face-to-face fieldwork for the EWCS 2020 after only seven weeks.
  • EWCS 2015: 35 countries, including the EU Member States, Norway, Switzerland, Albania, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey
  • EWCS 2010: 34 countries, including the EU Member States, Norway, Croatia, North Macedonia, Turkey, Albania, Montenegro and Kosovo
  • EWCS 2005: 31 countries, including the EU Member States, Norway, Croatia, Turkey and Switzerland
  • EWCS 2000-2002: A first phase covered 16 countries, including the EU Member States and Norway, with the survey being extended to cover the 12 'new' Member States in 2001, and Turkey in 2002 in a second phase
  • EWCS 1995-1996: Covered the EU Member States
  • EWCS 1990-1991: Covered the EU Member States