Labour market change

COVID-19: Policy responses across Europe

24 June 2020
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Key findings

  • The economic and labour market consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic are difficult to predict but are likely to be more serious than those of the global financial crisis of 2008–2009.
  • Due to the nature of containment measures, the impacts are very sector-specific and are likely to impact most on those with a higher share of non-teleworkable tasks, workers on precarious contracts, young people and women.
  • The majority of the 500 measures recorded in Eurofound’s COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch database (April 2020) were geared towards keeping businesses afloat (35%), protecting incomes (beyond short-time work measures – 20%) and protecting employment (13%).
  • As a result of lessons learned from the previous economic crisis, all EU Member States now offer short-time work or temporary lay-off schemes. However, their effectiveness is likely to be influenced by significant differences in eligibility conditions, income replacement rates, duration and associated bars on dismissals.
  • The fact that despite the widespread adoption of income protection measures, many individuals and families experienced dramatic reductions in income is illustrated by the widespread adoption of initiatives to defer rent, mortgage or loan payments.


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. Drawing on the content of this database of around 500 policy initiatives (April 2020), this report aims to present an overview of both large-scale government measures and collective agreements that impact on large groups of workers, setting this in the context of the evolving labour market situation.

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    COVID-19: Policy responses across Europe

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    Cite this publication as: 
    Eurofound (2020), COVID-19: Policy responses across Europe, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg.
  • Data, tables and graphs


    Eurofound's COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch collates information on the responses of government and social partners to the crisis, as well as gathering examples of company practices aimed at mitigating the social and economic impacts.

    Access to the raw dataset, updated at irregular intervals, is also available:

    When using this data, please cite as: Eurofound (2020), COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch,


    • Table 1: Sectoral social partner statements linked to COVID-19 (as of mid-May 2020)
    • Table 2: Categorisation of mitigation measures
    • Table 3: Overview of measures adopted in different countries to mitigate the impact of COVID-19: Measures for businesses
    • Table 4: Overview of measures adopted in different countries to mitigate the impact of COVID-19: Measures for workers
    • Table 5: Overview of measures adopted in different countries to mitigate the impact of COVID-19: Measures for citizens
    • Table 6: National-level measures to allow for the deferral of payments of various business liabilities
    • Table 7: Grant payments introduced in certain countries to support businesses with fixed costs
    • Table 8: Income support measures for the self-employed, solo self-employed and other groups not previously covered
    • Table 9: Support measures and benefits for working parents and carers


    • Figure 1: GDP per capita (percentage change on previous year, 2019–2021), EU27 and the UK
    • Figure 2: Projected rise in unemployment, 2020 compared to 2019, EU27 and the UK (pp)
    • Figure 3: Distribution of policy measures in different categories (%)
    • Figure 4: Four main sub-categories of measures adopted (%)
    • Figure 5: Role of social partners in the development of COVID-19 policy responses (%)
    • Figure 6: Involvement of social partners in the development of COVID-19 legislative policy responses, by category (%)
    • Figure 7: New or amended STW schemes to tackle COVID-19, EU27, Norway and the UK
    • Figure 8: Crisis impact thresholds (as % share of turnover) for access to STW allowance schemes
    • Figure 9: Replacement rate of STW allowance as a percentage of previous wage, EU27, Norway and the UK
    • Figure 10: Employees who have started teleworking due to COVID-19, EU27 (%)
    • Figure 11: Profile of employees teleworking for the first time post-COVID-19, EU27 (%)
    • Figure 12: Age limit of the child/disabled child for eligibility to obtain leave and/or benefits

Research carried out prior to the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union on 31 January 2020, and published subsequently, may include data relating to the 28 EU Member States. Following this date, research only takes into account the 27 EU Member States (EU28 minus the UK), unless specified otherwise.

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