In his statement to parliament (Deutscher Bundestag) on 14 March 2003 about
the government's Agenda 2010 programme of economic and social policy reforms
(DE0303105F ), Chancellor Gerhard Schröder announced his intention to
relax rules governing craft workers’ qualifications. Subsequently, on 28
May 2003, the cabinet decided to make it easier to establish businesses in
the craft industries. The current legislation, the Craft Trades Directive,
stipulates that a 'master’s' certificate is the prerequisite for
establishing or taking over a business in the craft sector. Currently,
businesses in 94 craft industries have to be led by a qualified 'master'
The European Commission launched on 16 June 2003 a new campaign aimed at
raising awareness of discrimination in Europe. According to a recent
Eurobarometer survey  on attitudes towards discrimination, most people in
Europe believe that ethnic origin, religion, disability, sexual orientation
or age can be an obstacle to finding employment. The survey also found that
people feel that discrimination against ethnic minorities is the most
widespread form of discrimination in the EU. Around one-fifth of those
questioned in the survey said that they had personally witnessed
discrimination on ethnic grounds. On a country basis, this ranged from 15% of
respondents in Ireland to 35% in the Netherlands. Overall, only one in three
respondents stated that they would know what their rights were if they were
On 12 June 2003, the delegates at a special conference held in Glasgow by the
Fire Brigades’ Union (FBU) voted three to one in favour of accepting a
revised pay deal agreed between the local authority employers and union
negotiators. The following day, the pay agreement  was formally approved
by the National Joint Council for Local Authorities’ Fire Brigades (NJC),
bringing to an end the long-running pay dispute within the UK fire service.
Over recent years, the Minister of Economy and Labour Affairs, Martin
Bartenstein, has made several unsuccessful attempts to liberalise further the
current regulations on shop opening hours, which were most recently amended
in 1997 but are still seen as relatively restrictive (AT0101239N ). Any
such extension of opening hours and working time was opposed by both the
social partners and the political parties in parliament, except the
conservative People’s Party (Österreichische Volkspartei, ÖVP)
(AT0107221N ). However, in spring 2003, the coalition government of the
ÖVP and the populist Freedom Party (Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs, FPÖ)
reached agreement on further deregulation of the shop opening legislation.
On 7 June 2003, the German Metalworkers' Union (Industriegewerkschaft Metall,
IG Metall) and the employers' association for the German steel industry
(Arbeitgeberverband Stahl) agreed on the phasing-in of a 35-hour working week
in the eastern German steel industry by 2009. Collectively agreed working
time in the eastern steel industry is currently 38 hours a week, while a
35-hour week applies in the sector in western Germany. The new framework
agreement on employment conditions  (Manteltarifvertrag) now provides for
a step-by-step reduction in standard working time as follows:
On 25 June 2003, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) published a
report report  urging the government to protect the right of UK employees
to work more than 48 hours a week if they choose to.
 http://www.cbi.org.uk/ndbs/press.nsf/0363c1f07c6ca12a8025671c00381cc7/a25d7307dd360bf880256d4f002e09d0/$FILE/Working Time Report.pdf
The reduction of working time has become a central bargaining demand for
Hungarian trade unions at national level in recent years. In Hungary, regular
working time is regulated virtually solely by the Labour Code, as its
reduction is rarely an issue for sectoral or company-level collective
agreements. The 40-hour statutory working week has not changed since 1992,
though a minor decrease in annual working time took place in the 1990s owing
to the introduction of new public holidays. Although the 2002 election
programme of the Hungarian Socialist Party (Magyar Szocialista Párt,MSZP
), now the major party in the coalition government, made promises
concerning the reduction of working time (HU0206101F ), until now the
government has not acted on this issue.
According to Latvian labour law, the minimum wage paid may not be lower than
the minimum set by the government. The national minimum wage is not linked to
any economically-based income indicator, with the cabinet determining the
minimum wage for 'normal-time' employees and the minimum hourly rate on the
basis of fiscal and social considerations. From a very low level - EUR 3.48
in 1992 (1 LVL currently equals 0.661 EUR) - the monthly minimum wage has
increased to EUR 105.9 in 2003. The government: raised the minimum wage twice
in 1992 (to EUR 5.07 and EUR 11.35); doubled it in 1993 (to EUR 22.70);
raised it twice in 1994 (to EUR 34.04 and EUR 42.36); increased it in 1996
(to EUR 57.49), 1998 (to EUR 63.54), 1999 (to EUR 75.64) and 2001 (to EUR
90.77); and set it at EUR 105.9 from 1 January 2003.
This report seeks to address the question whether the structure of business
finance in continental Europe is likely to converge towards the model
observed in the UK and US economies where financial intermediaries,
especially banks, play a much smaller role in the allocation of savings to
productive investment purposes.
A seminar on corporate social responsibility (CSR) held in Portugal in June
2003 aimed to promote debate on the issue with a view to improving
understanding of the principles and practices involved. The occasion
presented the social partners with an opportunity to give their views on CSR,
and they all stressed that one of the prerequisites in Portugal is respect
for existing laws on economic activity, employment and the environment.
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.
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, conducted in three rounds – in April and July 2020 and in March 2021. This is complemented by the inclusion of research into the ongoing effects of the pandemic in much of Eurofound’s other areas of work.
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.
Platform work – the matching of supply of and demand for paid labour through an online platform or app – is gaining increasing importance in Europe. It has attracted policy attention due to its inherent opportunities and challenges. Across Europe, initiatives have been introduced by governments, social partners and grassroots organisations aimed at harnessing the potential and reducing the risks of this employment form. The areas covered include regulation, representation, advice and information provision, as well as measures addressing social protection, ratings and training.
The European Jobs Monitor tracks changes in employment structure and contributes to the debate about whether European labour markets are polarising or upgrading. The European Jobs Monitor report in 2021 looks in particular at two dimensions of change in labour supply – increased female participation and population/workforce ageing – to show how they can contribute to an understanding of recent changes in employment structure.
This study presents policy-relevant findings on differential pay rates for men and women at occupational level. Previous research has underlined that the gender pay gap is biggest – and has been slowest to narrow – in well-paid jobs requiring professional qualifications. These are also jobs in which the female worker share is increasing relatively fast. The report maps the extent of the gender pay gap across the job-wage distribution, taking into account the shifting gender composition of specific sectors, occupations and jobs.
While often considered staid, social partner organisations have developed different ways of using technology to communicate with their members, as well as to organise, mobilise and develop both internally, among staff, and externally, vis-à-vis members and the public. This topical update maps current practices in social partner organisations, describes developments in the use of technologies, and outlines the impact on social partner activities and organisation.
What have been the major trends and policy developments regarding digitalisation in Europe? What do we know about the deployment of automation, digitisation and the platform economy? This flagship publication provides an overview of developments in Europe in recent years, as well as mapping the observable or expected effects on employment and working conditions, as well as exploring the implications from a policy perspective.
This report analyses and compares the industrial relations landscape in a number of sectors and activities that form a public service cluster. The report draws on Eurofound’s recent representativeness studies investigating the following sectors: education, human health, central government administration and local and regional government sector (including social services).
The COVID-19 pandemic radically reshaped workplace practices and work organisation across the EU. This report explores changes that occurred as a result of or during the COVID-19 pandemic in areas such as technological transformation, decision-making and remote working. The research sets out to learn from company experiences and measures that have proved critical to keeping businesses running. It aims to inform policymakers, employers and trade unions on how to make businesses, workplaces and workers more resilient in the face of a crisis such as COVID-19.
Following improvements in economic growth and labour market participation after the global financial and economic crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic constitutes a new, unprecedented challenge for the EU. The crisis threatens to pose an existential challenge to the EU’s cohesion and legitimacy. The subject of upward convergence is once again centre stage in the European policy debate. Expanding on work done on this topic in previous years, this flagship report traces developments in economic and social indicators between the economic crisis and the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This report captures the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the quality of life of older citizens, including the impact on their well-being, finances, employment and social inclusion. It explores the effects on care use and reliance on other support. The report analyses policy measures that have been implemented in EU Member States that have proven particularly important for the quality of life of older citizens, for example, measures to support independent living.
This report examines the phenomenon of overtime in the EU, providing a comparative description of how it is regulated in EU Member States. It also assesses how contentious the issue can be and investigates the reasons behind the various disputes and debates. Finally, the report attempts to quantify and characterise the share of overtime for which workers are not paid or compensated. The analysis is based on information collected in EU Member States by the Network of Eurofound Correspondents.