This flagship report summarises the key findings of Eurofound’s research on working conditions conducted over the programming period 2017–2020. It maps the progress achieved since 2000 in improving working conditions and examines whether all workers have benefited equally from positive change. It highlights which groups are the most at risk of experiencing poor working conditions and being left behind. Given the changes in the world of work, emerging challenges for good job quality are identified.
While 2020 may come to be seen as the year platform work gathered pace and started to go mainstream – thanks in large part to COVID-19 containment measures sparking an increase in food and grocery delivery – 2021 could be the year that regulation of platform work is set in motion. The well-known taxi and delivery platforms, like Deliveroo and Free Now, have been criticised from their inception for applying conditions of employment that simultaneously deny their workers the entitlements of an employee and the autonomy enjoyed by the self-employed. But platform work need not be the job of last resort. It is fundamentally a new means of matching supply and demand for paid labour, and it could be an engine for innovation and employment growth. It’s time for policymakers to steer it along a path that better balances the interests of platforms and workers.
To date, close to six million workers in the EU have lost their jobs due to COVID-19. Many businesses have closed their doors forever or been pushed to the brink, bringing severe financial and psychological hardship to the individuals and families affected. However, the toll of the pandemic could have been even greater had it not been for the adoption of unprecedented assistance measures in all Member States, supported by the European Union, including through the SURE (Support to mitigate Unemployment Risks in an Emergency) initiative in 18 countries. But have these policies benefited different groups in the labour market equally, or have they cemented existing inequalities in access to support, effectively creating two worlds of income support during the pandemic?
The Eurofound style guide is designed to be used by all Eurofound authors – both internal and external – and those who are involved in the process of editing the different products. Use of the style guide will help Eurofound to deliver high-quality information products and so increase our visibility and influence as part of the overall strategic objective ‘to provide scientifically sound, unbiased, timely and policy relevant knowledge that contributes to better informed polices to improve living and working conditions and strengthen cohesion in a changing Europe’.
Despite the unusually tough economic and labour market conditions, most EU Member States made nominal and real increases to their minimum wages in 2020. This is what a first overview of recent minimum wage developments reveals. Some countries lived up to earlier promises or pre-agreements, while other countries strayed somewhat off their original path but still maintained the overall trend of increasing minimum wages in line with other wages. Although most countries were cautious in the level of increase granted, low inflation rates meant that the value of minimum wages still went up beyond rises in consumer prices. For the time being, at least, it can be concluded that the policy response in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic is distinct from the approach taken during the global financial crisis, when a greater number of countries moved quickly to freeze nominal minimum wages.
The employment fallout of COVID-19 has been a story of two types of service work. Office-based knowledge workers have largely kept their jobs and incomes while participating in the huge and apparently successful ad hoc social experiment in working from home. Client-facing service workers have borne the brunt of the lockdowns and the steep declines in demand for in-person services in restaurants, hotels, leisure and the arts. The upshot is that, unlike the ‘mancession’ following the global financial crisis, the first impacts of the pandemic have fallen disproportionately on low-paid female workers. But to see this in the statistics, we must start by looking beyond the unemployment rate.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a dramatic impact on the accessibility of health, education and care services for all Europeans. This is also the case for children, who in several countries have seen their schools closed and replaced with remote learning. They have been affected, too, by the pandemic’s negative impact on their families’ access to healthcare and their mental health. Many families have also experienced rising housing insecurity. The Child Guarantee aims to ensure access to these resources for children in need.
Healthcare providers have been overwhelmed by the demand for COVID-19-related care. Medical appointments and treatments for other conditions have often been delayed, potentially leading to escalating health problems and greater future care needs among those who have missed out. If the pandemic leads to an economic crash, this rise in unmet medical needs could spiral, as happened during the last economic crisis – policymakers should take heed.
The COVID-19 pandemic compelled governments to take exceptional measures to monitor and control the spread of the Coronavirus. Among them was the introduction in most EU Member States of tracking apps to gather data on citizens who have contracted the virus and to trace their contacts, a measure that inevitably traded off privacy protection for effective infection prevention.
This study provides information allowing for an assessment of the representativeness of the actors involved in the European sectoral social dialogue committee for the local and regional government (LRG) sector, including social services. Their relative representativeness legitimises their right to be consulted, their role and effective participation in European sectoral social dialogue and their capacity to negotiate agreements.
The European Restructuring Monitor (ERM) has reported on the employment impact of large-scale business restructuring since 2002. This publication series include the ERM reports, as well as blogs, articles and working papers on restructuring-related events in the EU27 and Norway.
Eurofound’s European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS) paints a wide-ranging picture of Europe at work across countries, occupations, sectors and age groups. This series consists of findings from the European Working Conditions Telephone Survey (EWCTS) 2021, an extraordinary edition conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey was first carried out in 1990.
This publication series gathers all overview reports on developments in working life, annual reviews in industrial relations and working conditions produced by Eurofound on the basis of national contributions from the Network of Eurofound Correspondents (NEC). Since 1997, these reports have provided overviews of the latest developments in industrial relations and working conditions across the EU and Norway. The series may include recent ad hoc articles written by members of the NEC.
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.
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).
The report describes trends in social and economic discontent across the EU between 2002 and 2020, highlighting in particular the turbulent times brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. The report explores the evolution of social cohesion and its impact on economic and social discontent. It assesses the relationship between social cohesion and discontent during the pandemic, allowing for a comparison of the situation as it stands in 2023. The focus of the report is on regions where social cohesion is low, where a contrast is drawn with regions where social cohesion is much higher.
This report analyses the working conditions and job quality of different types of self-employed workers. Drawing on data from the European Working Conditions Survey, it looks into policies in Member States aimed at addressing the challenges and opportunities associated with specific types of self-employment.
This study provides information allowing for an assessment of the representativeness of the actors involved in the European sectoral social dialogue committee for the chemical sector. 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 in the chemical sector in the EU Member States.
The focus of this report is on the role that human capital plays in determining inequalities across the EU, as well as within Member States. Using Cedefop’s work in this area, the report provides a comparative analysis of national trends in education and lifelong learning, including differences between educational groups in terms of income, living conditions and health.
The report maps trends in income inequality and examines the situation of the middle classes in the EU during 2020, the year most associated with the COVID-19 lockdowns. It charts developments in the size and composition of middle-class households across countries, identifies those that suffered disproportionately in 2020. Taking a longer lens, the report describes the evolution of income inequalities over the last 15 years, comparing the Great Recession (2007–2009) with the COVID-19 pandemic, and outlines the trends both between and within Member States.
This report explores the implications of the right of all EU citizens to live independently. It investigates the barriers faced by people who wish to live independently, and the situation of people at risk of living in institutional settings. It maps the various measures taken by EU Member States to foster independent living and autonomy. The report also includes policy pointers to support future decision-makers and provides a review of lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic.