The COVID-19 pandemic presented companies with a sudden and unpredictable set of events that put their revenue sources in peril. Faced with lockdown, some had no option but to shut up shop. Others saw a way through by reinventing themselves to respond to physical distancing requirements, changed customer demands or disrupted supply chains. Necessity being the mother of invention, these businesses rapidly revised their business models.
Activities of the European Commission and social partners regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, the high-level hearing on implementing the European Pillar of Social Rights and a fair EU minimum wage initiative are the main topics of interest in this article. This EU update reports on the latest developments in working life in EU in the second quarter of 2020.
Around three-quarters of the EU workforce is employed in the service sector, and a sizeable portion of service workers interact directly with the recipients of the services they provide, such as clients, patients, pupils and so on. This can be demanding work as it routinely places emotional demands on these workers and can have an impact on their well-being. This policy brief examines the working conditions of people employed in
Minimum wages, one of the cornerstone issues for Ursula von der Leyen’s Commission, were a hot topic in the EU at the beginning of the year. Then the COVID-19 public health crisis struck. Now, with an economic crisis and recession looming, the question is not only what impact the crisis has had on minimum wage earners, but also what is the impact on the debate itself. How can the European Commission and Member States ensure minimum wages that are fair and provide a decent standard of living during and following a ‘black swan’ such as the Coronacrisis?
How do organisations get the best out of their employees? Research on human resource management has found that a key practice is employee involvement: enabling employees to make decisions on their own work and to contribute to organisational decision-making. A high degree of employee involvement creates work environments that are highly motivational and that emphasise skill development. And this is the type of work environment that organisations need to meet the demands for innovation and adaptability to technological change in a knowledge-driven economy.
Collective agreements are among the panoply of national measures deemed appropriate mechanisms for the implementation of EU directives in the fields of social and employment policy and industrial relations. This role of collective agreements is prescribed by Article 153(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), which states that a Member State may entrust management and labour, at their joint request, with the implementation of labour law directives adopted.
Developments in information and communication technology (ICT) have been among the key drivers of change in working life over the past two decades. Specifically, telework and ICT-based mobile work (TICTM) exemplifies how digital technology has led to more flexible workplace and working time practices. However, the ability to work anywhere and at any time can lead to greater work intensification, competition and work-on-demand. If this is not explicitly addressed, it threatens to override the advantages that ICT-based flexible working brings to work–life balance.
Although EU law guarantees equal treatment for all among its founding principles, discrimination in the EU is not a thing of the past. Across Europe, 2% of workers report experiencing discrimination at work linked to each of the following: race, ethnic background, colour and nationality. A joint Eurofound–ILO report comparing working conditions globally found that discrimination at work can have a negative impact on people’s physical and mental health, as well as impeding their career prospects. Overall, experiencing discrimination means lower job quality.
This report describes Eurofound's activities, particularly its research, information and communication programmes and policy achievements, in relation to the objectives set in the Work Programme 2019. It also covers the management and external evaluation control systems, key performance indicators, and financial and HR information.
The effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the lives of individuals and societies, including on the economy and labour markets, is unprecedented. The impact of the global health emergency has placed a growing number of businesses under threat, putting the jobs of more and more workers at risk and impacting the livelihoods of many citizens. Policymakers moved swiftly in an effort to mitigate the social and economic effects on businesses, workers and citizens. Eurofound’s COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch database provides information on initiatives introduced to cushion these effects.
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.
With the expansion of telework and different forms of hybrid work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important for policymakers to consider both the opportunities and the negative consequences that may result. This report will explore potential scenarios for such work. In doing so, it will identify trends and drivers, and predict how they might interact to create particular outcomes and how they are likely to affect workers and businesses. Policy pointers will outline what could be done to facilitate desirable outcomes and to avoid undesirable ones.
The urban-rural divide in EU countries has grown in recent years, and the depopulation of certain rural areas in favour of cities is a challenge when it comes to promoting economic development and maintaining social cohesion and convergence. Using data from Eurofound and Eurostat, this report will investigate the trends and drivers of the urban-rural divide, in various dimensions: economic and employment opportunities, access to services, living conditions and quality of life.
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.
Adequate, affordable housing has become a matter of great concern, with an alarming number of Europeans with low or lower household incomes unable to access any, especially in capital cities. Housing was a key factor in people’s experience of the COVID-19 pandemic: its quality and level of safety significantly affected how lockdowns and social distancing measures were experienced, with those who had no access to quality housing at higher risk of deteriorating living conditions and well-being.
The use of artificial intelligence, advanced robotics and the Internet of Things technologies in the workplace can bring about fundamental changes in work organisation and working conditions. This report analyses the ethical and human implications of the use of these technologies at work by drawing on qualitative interviews with policy stakeholders, input from the Network of Eurofound Correspondents and Delphi expert surveys, and case studies.
This study provides information allowing for an assessment of the representativeness of the actors involved in European sectoral social dialogue taking place at cross-sectoral level. Their relative representativeness legitimises their right to be consulted, their role and effective participation in the European sectoral social dialogue and their capacity to negotiate agreements. The aim of this Eurofound’s study on representativeness is to identify the relevant national and European social partner organisations at cross-sectoral level in the EU Member States.