Health and well-being at work
17 January 2023
Promoting high standards in working conditions, including in the area of health and well-being at work, is a key priority for the EU. The EU Directive on measures to improve safety and health at work seeks to protect workers in their place of work and promote workers’ rights in this area.
The EU’s Strategic Framework on Health and Safety at Work 2021–2027 identifies important challenges and objectives for Member States in a changing world of work.Read more
The EU’s Strategic Framework on Health and Safety at Work 2021–2027 identifies important challenges and objectives for Member States in a changing world of work. It focuses on three key objectives: anticipating and managing change in the world of work brought about by the green, digital and demographic transitions; prevention of workplace accidents and illnesses; preparedness for any potential future health crises.
The European Pillar of Social Rights, formally proclaimed by the EU institutions in November 2017, reflects a joint commitment to providing a healthy, safe and well-adapted work environment for workers in the EU. Principle 10 includes provisions on protection of workers’ health and safety at work, as well as adapting the working environment to enable longer participation in the labour market. On 4 March 2021, the Commission presented its action plan to fully implement the Pillar.
- EUR-Lex: Council Directive 89/391/EEC on the introduction of measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health of workers at work
- European Commission: EU strategic framework on health and safety at work 2021–2027
- European Commission: The European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan
- European Commission: The European Pillar of Social Rights in 20 principles
- European Commission: Health and safety at work
Eurofound has been analysing occupational health and safety since the 1990s and recognises that health issues are a central part of an organisation’s structure and development, for workers and employers alike.Read more
Eurofound has been analysing occupational health and safety since the 1990s and recognises that health issues are a central part of an organisation’s structure and development, for workers and employers alike. Analysis of survey data has been carried out to investigate the links between working conditions and health and safety. This is done in close consultation with the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA). Eurofound has a cooperation agreement with EU-OSHA which sets out opportunities for joint activities in this area and for further forms of exchange.
Eurofound’s European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS) is a prime source of information on job quality and its correlation with the health and well-being of different groups of workers. Building on the analysis from previous editions of the survey, EWCS 2024 will continue to investigate the associations between working conditions and the physical and mental health of workers and absenteeism and presenteeism.
The situation faced by workers during the COVID-19 pandemic was captured by the European Working Conditions Telephone Survey (EWCTS), which Eurofound carried out in 2021. Based on an adapted EWCS questionnaire, the EWCTS 2021 investigated the specific challenges to the health and safety and well-being of workers during the pandemic and results will be presented in an overview report in December 2022.
Health and mental health are important components associated with a person’s quality of life and longevity, as well as their ability to work. The European Quality of Life Survey (EQLS) covers subjective well-being, health and access to healthcare, and aspects of individual quality of life including work–life balance and care responsibilities. It investigates the links between having to work while also having care responsibilities and the resulting impact on well-being.
The European Company Survey (ECS) examines the associations between workplace well-being and establishment performance, including absenteeism and its cost to the economy. It looks at practices to improve occupational health and safety and the influence of employee representatives.
Health and well-being and COVID-19
Eurofound’s unique e-survey, Living, working and COVID-19, explores the impact of the changes that occurred during the course of the pandemic on people’s lives. It includes questions on people’s work situation, teleworking, experiences of working from home and the impact on work–life balance, as well as job quality and health and safety at work.
- Data: Working during COVID-19
Work-related health outcomes
Advances in information and communications technologies have opened the door to new ways of organising work. Telework and ICT-based mobile work (TICTM) has emerged in this transition, giving workers and employers the ability to adapt the time and location of work to their needs. Research analyses the employment and working conditions of workers with TICTM arrangements, focusing on how it affects their work–life balance, health, performance and job prospects, as well as the right to disconnect. This builds on earlier joint research by Eurofound and the International Labour Organization (ILO) on the effects of telework and ICT-mobile work on workers in the EU.
Research has explored issues around making work sustainable over the life course. To achieve this requires devising new solutions for working conditions and career paths that help workers to retain their physical and mental health, motivation and productivity over an extended working life. Eurofound’s latest report on working conditions and sustainable work maps the progress achieved since 2000 in improving working conditions, examines whether all workers have benefited equally from positive change, highlights the groups at risk of poor working conditions, and identifies emerging challenges for good job quality in the changing world of work.
Role of social dialogue
Research carried out by the Network of Eurofound Correspondents also documents the national social dialogue debates centred around working life and health and safety at work in the EU, including as a result of COVID-19. This research includes a focus on policy areas related to adapting to the pandemic and the return to work, with particular emphasis on new health and safety arrangements at work. It also explores the impact of the pandemic on social dialogue, collective bargaining and industrial action.
- Country reports: Working life in the COVID-19 pandemic 2021
Other research topics
Other studies have been carried out on keeping older workers in the labour market, violence and harassment at work, absence from work, use of alcohol and drugs at the workplace, work-related stress and psychosocial risks, and the employment situations of young people with health problems and disabilities and people with chronic diseases.Read less
Key outputs over the years
Publications & dataTop
The sections below provide access to a range of publications, data and ongoing work on this topic.
- Publications (760)
- Ongoing work (1)
Eurofound publications come in a variety of formats, including reports, policy briefs, blogs, articles and presentations.
New survey reveals vastly different working experiences during COVID-19: teleworkers comparatively positive while frontline workers felt unrecognised, underappreciatedNews 29 November 2022
Youth first! Employment, skills and social policies that work for young Europeans in times of uncertaintyEvent 8 September 2022
A selection of related data on this topic are linked below.
- Data: Living, working and COVID-19 data