The decades-long trend of a narrowing gender employment gap in Europe has halted in recent years. Now the COVID-19 pandemic is disproportionately affecting low-paying service sectors with a high share of social contact, including many with a majority of female workers, risking forcing them out of the labour market. Do these developments threaten to reverse the progress on gender equality achieved so far?
Closing gender gaps in the labour market by achieving the equal participation of women is among the key objectives of the new Gender Equality Strategy 2020–2025. Despite significant progress in reducing the gender employment gap, it has stagnated over the past few years. Moreover, segregation in employment across sectors and occupations is still pervasive.
With remote working becoming the new normal for many workers, it is surely the case that many employers are anxious to ensure that their employees are putting in full working days. Companies are likely to be investing in and deploying digital technologies for tracking employee performance much more than before the pandemic. The pervasiveness of new digital technologies – whether for working remotely or in the workplace – has raised a host of new issues and concerns around privacy and data protection as well as work organisation, control and autonomy. When it comes to tracking what employees are doing, there is a balance to be struck between the legitimate business interests of the employer and employees’ right to privacy.
New digital technologies have expanded the possibilities of employee monitoring and surveillance, both in and outside the workplace. In the context of the increasing digitalisation of work, there are many issues related to employee monitoring that warrant the attention of policymakers. As well as the often-cited privacy and ethical concerns, there are also important implications for worker–employer relations, as digitally enabled monitoring and surveillance inevitably shift power dynamics in the workplace.
The EU strives for the upward convergence of its Member States, where their performance improves and gaps between them decrease. Nearly a decade after the Great Recession, the COVID-19 crisis has again put this objective under pressure. This policy brief focuses on convergence in material well-being in Europe. Trends in several indicators largely follow the economic cycle, with upward convergence in good times and downward divergence in bad times.
This programming document describes Eurofound’s planned work over the programming period 2021–2024. It sets out the policy and institutional context for the programme, describes the multiannual programme for the four-year period and sets out the work programme for 2021. Eurofound’s priorities for 2021–2024 are shaped by the key challenges for social cohesion and just transitions in a changing environment in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis. The Agency focuses on issues where it can draw on its core expertise in the areas of working conditions, industrial relations, employment and living conditions, to support its stakeholders, by providing evidence that can assist their policy action.
Whatever the benefits of telework – and there are many, including more flexible working time, increased productivity and less commuting – there are drawbacks, as many of the one-third of Europeans who were exclusively working from home during the pandemic will attest. Primary among these is the ‘always on’ culture that telework engenders, encouraging workers to respond to emails, phone calls and texts from work long after the working day or week has ended. This situation may be aggravated if the organisational culture at work incentivises employees to accept heavy workloads and put in overtime, often unpaid. All of which upsets work–life balance, leading to conflicts between work and home life, insufficient rest and health problems like work-related stress and sleep disorders.
An ageing Europe and rising public expenditure on long-term care have signalled for some time that the fundamentals of care provision need to be addressed. However, the shocking death toll in care homes during the COVID-19 pandemic and the fact that many long-term care services were ill-equipped to protect their vulnerable users have lately focused the public mind on the issue. Most people in the EU will need such care for themselves or someone close to them at some stage in their lives. Demand is already escalating, as the rise in the long-term care workforce – by a third in just a decade – testifies. Calls for a European care strategy rightly insist that care users be listened to, but here we highlight others in the system whose needs deserve attention too.
According to the dictionary, an organisation is an organised group of people with a particular purpose. To achieve this purpose, tasks are divided between the members of the group, and the task of some of those people is to manage the others. Interestingly, whereas most tasks are allocated based on competence and qualifications, the allocation of the task of managing people is often based on a different rationale. Many managers are appointed to their role because they exceled at the tasks that are carried out by the people they are supposed to manage. Many business owners take on the management of their staff, regardless of whether this is where their strengths lie. But people management is not easy and requires skills that, contrary to what is often assumed, are not just learned by doing.
As Europe braces for a winter wave of the Coronavirus, behind the public health indicators that rightly dominate the headlines, a revolution in working life is under way. In early spring, millions of people throughout Europe took their work home and tried to rapidly adjust to the new world in which they found themselves. The unfolding changes in working life from this sharp shock look set to be a 'révolution tranquille', where longstanding principles and practices could be fundamentally changed for decades to come. The decisions that are made now will ultimately determine the nature of how this revolution will unfold, and what it will mean for workers and employers alike.
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.
The European Restructuring Monitor has reported on the employment impact of large-scale business restructuring since 2002. This series includes its restructuring-related databases (events, support instruments and legislation) as well as case studies and publications.
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).
This series reports on the new forms of employment emerging across Europe that are driven by societal, economic and technological developments and are different from traditional standard or non-standard employment in a number of ways. This series explores what characterises these new employment forms and what implications they have for working conditions and the labour market.
The European Company Survey (ECS) is carried out every four to five years since its inception in 2004–2005, with the latest edition in 2019. The survey is designed to provide information on workplace practices to develop and evaluate socioeconomic policy in the EU. It covers issues around work organisation, working time arrangements and work–life balance, flexibility, workplace innovation, employee involvement, human resource management, social dialogue, and most recently also skills use, skills strategies and digitalisation.