Eurofound News July 2007
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Research in brief
Source: EIRO Working time developments – 2006
On average, workers in the 12 new Member States work more than two and a half working weeks longer each year than their EU15 counterparts. The total of agreed annual leave and public holidays varies from the upper level of 43 days in Sweden to 26 days in Estonia – a difference of nearly three-and-a-half working weeks. Other ‘high-leave’ countries include Germany (40 days), Italy (39 days), Luxembourg and Denmark (38 days each). ‘Low-leave’ countries include Latvia (27 days), Hungary (28 days) and Ireland (29 days).
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News in brief
While an increasing number of European companies are realising the potential business benefits of a more diverse workforce, raising awareness of the issue of diversity remains a challenge. Companies must also find the best way of aligning diversity measures with their overall business objectives. These are the conclusions reached at the recent EMCC company network seminar, ‘Managing diversity in the workplace: competitive advantages for companies’, held in the Paris headquarters of Schneider Electric, on 14–15 June. One of the key drivers for the implementation of diversity measures is the need to bring company practice into line with EU legislation introduced to end workplace discrimination on the grounds of age, gender, disability, sexual orientation, belief and ethnicity. However, companies are also competing for skilled workers and markets; increasingly, having a workforce that mirrors the diversity of the marketplace is seen as a competitive advantage.
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As part of the ongoing redesign and update of the website, Eurofound has recently integrated a new tool to better pinpoint which web pages, downloads and services are most popular. Feedback on the changes will be gathered through a user survey to be launched in September which will allow Eurofound to better customise its services for different user groups. As well as having a more unified look, the redesigned site now offers better access to Eurofound’s observatories (EIRO, EWCO and EMCC). The website is the main access point for Eurofound’s publications, all of which can be downloaded free of charge. Through the site, you can also subscribe to an electronic version of Eurofound News, which features expanded versions of the articles and is sent out once a month as an email newsletter.
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Employee financial participation remains a little-used form of employee participation in the new Member States (NMS) that joined in 2004, according to a new report from Eurofound’s European Industrial Relations Observatory (EIRO), Employee financial participation in the New Member States. Employee financial participation (EFP) – in particular, profit sharing – could make a positive contribution to tackling some of the socioeconomic problems of the NMS; however, the report concludes that the low policy priority currently being given to EFP in these countries indicates that it is unlikely, for the time being, to develop into standard employment practice. EFP, especially employee share ownership schemes, became popular in the NMS during the privatisations of formerly state-owned companies in the early 1990s. Since then, however, recessionary trends and low levels of profits have discouraged the development of EFP schemes.
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Almost one third of workers in Slovenia fear losing their jobs in the coming six months, while more workers in Portugal are more satisfied with their working conditions than the European average, according to findings from Eurofound’s fourth European Working Conditions Survey. In September, Eurofound will present the survey’s main findings during two two-day visits to Ljubljana and to Lisbon, in bilateral meetings with representatives from the Slovenian and Portuguese governments and social partners. The visit is part of Eurofound’s series of visits to its stakeholders to allow for closer collaboration and to present recent Eurofound research, data and recommendations.
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