At the annual Conference on the Family held at the end of April 2003, the
French government announced a number of new family policy measures. Notably
it is to introduce in 2004 a new benefit for parents of young children,
replacing a number of existing schemes. The reaction of the social partners
has been mixed.
During 2003, Italian trade unions - and especially the Cisl confederation -
have been repeatedly threatened and attacked by terrorist groups (with 43
such attacks, including 12 fire-bombings, recorded between July 2002 and May
2003). The minister of the interior has highlighted the threat to unions in
parliament and in June the three main confederations agreed a united response
to the attacks.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer’s budget statement on 9 April 2003
contained a commitment to introduce measures to ensure that pay systems in
the public services become more responsive to differences in labour market
conditions between the UK’s regions. In particular, the pay review bodies
which determine levels of pay for 40% of the public service workforce would
have a new remit to take into account regional and local factors. To augment
the economic data available to negotiators and pay review bodies, the
government also announced plans to publish regional inflation figures.
Supporting its proposals, the government cited evidence from its 2002 review
of the public sector labour market which showed that wages in the public
sector vary far less than those in the private sector. The review found that
'public-sector workers outside of London are probably better paid than their
private-sector counterparts. But those in London are worse off than
equivalent workers in the private sector' (quoted in the /Financial Times/,
11 April 2003). The review concluded that the problem lay with national pay
bargaining and review body arrangements.
On 13 June 2003, the Norwegian government issued a proposal for new
legislation relating to gender quotas on company boards. The aim is to
achieve a 40% share of female board members in both larger private firms and
public enterprises. The proposed legislation would be made applicable to
private companies only if they fail voluntarily to achieve an acceptable
level of female representation on their boards. The government's proposal
comes against the backdrop of an increasing awareness of the low presence of
women on company boards in Norway. The government sees this as an equal
opportunities issue and argues that the business and industry community is
not doing enough to avail itself of the competences and qualifications of
both women and men.
Since autumn 2002, trade unions representing staff employed in the French
state education system have been taking industrial action in opposition to
the government’s planned reforms in areas including pensions,
decentralisation and budget cuts. After an 11th day of strike action and
protests on 10 June 2003, the government made some progress in placating the
unions. Whatever the outcome of this dispute, it is probable that the
discontent among teachers, who have been highly mobilised for months, will be
According to a representative survey of 1,001 firms with fewer than six
employees carried out by the Forsa Society for Social Research and
Statistical Analysis (Gesellschaft für Sozialforschung und statistische
Analysen mbH, forsa ) in March 2003, many small firms of this size have
encountered difficulties owing to Germany's dismissal protection 
legislation over the past five years. The protective legislation currently
applies to employers with more than five employees. The survey finds that
since 1998, among firms with four or five employees, 14% and 15% respectively
have had negative experiences related to this legislation. One in seven small
firms in the representative survey state that they have not created new jobs
due to the strict dismissal protection legislation which applies when their
workforce exceeds five. For enterprises with four or five employees, which
would be most immediately affected if they employed additional staff, this
figure increases to 27% and 31% respectively - see the table below.
In March 2002, the central EU-level social partners agreed a 'framework of
actions  ' for the lifelong development of competencies and qualifications
(EU0204210F ). The signatories were: the European Trade Union
Confederation (ETUC) - whose delegation included representatives of the
liaison committee for managerial and professional staff, which brings
together the ETUC-affiliated Council of European Professional and Managerial
Staff (EUROCADRES) and the independent European Confederation of Executives
and Managerial Staff (CEC); the Union of Industrial and Employers'
Confederations of Europe (UNICE), in cooperation with the European
Association of Craft and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (UEAPME); and the
European Centre of Enterprises with Public Participation and of Enterprises
of General Economic Interest (CEEP). The framework identified the following
four priority areas for action:
In March 2003, the Institute for Economic and Social Research within the Hans
Böckler Foundation (Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaftliches Institut in
der Hans-Böckler-Stiftung, WSI) presented the first results of its third
works and staff council survey (published in a special issue  of
/WSI-Mitteilungen/, Vol. 56, No. 3, 2003). The survey was carried out in
summer 2002 and included a representative sample of establishments with 20 or
more employees. The principal aim of the survey is to give a current overview
of the situation of works council  s and (public sector) staff council 
s in Germany and to monitor industrial relations at establishment level. A
special evaluation of the survey data provides information on implementation
of the 2001 reform of the Works Constitution  Act
(Betriebsverfassungsgesetz, BetrVG) (DE0107234F ) with regard to the
promotion of the representation of women on works councils and of equal
opportunities for men and women at company level ('Gleichstellung von Frauen
und Männern in der betrieblichen Interessenvertretung', Christina Klenner
and Christiane Lindecke, in /WSI-Mitteilungen/, Vol. 56, No. 3, 2003).
A meeting of the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs
Council was held in Luxembourg on 2-3 June 2003 under the Greek Presidency.
Ministers debated a range of employment and social policy issues, with
varying degrees of success.
The issue of company directors’ pay is highly topical in the UK following
regulations in 2002 to introduce a clearer role for shareholders (UK0111101N
). With greater transparency has come controversy over the links between
boardroom pay and corporate performance. In June 2003, the government issued
a consultative document looking at best practice and legislative options
concerning directors’ severance payments, with trade unions calling for a
tougher regulatory framework.
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.
This report explores the drivers of economic and social convergence in Europe, using a selected set of economic and social indicators to examine trends in the performance of individual Member States. It also investigates what role the Economic and Monetary Union plays in convergence, particularly in southern and eastern Member States. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on convergence is analysed and initial conclusions are drawn about the impact of EU recovery packages and their ability to prevent divergence.
This study provides information allowing for an assessment of the representativeness of the actors involved in the European sectoral social dialogue committee for the textiles and clothing 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 study on representativeness is to identify the relevant national and European social partner organisations in the textiles and clothing sector in the EU Member States.
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.
This report analyses how working conditions, job quality and working life outcomes – such as work–life balance, health and well-being, and sustainability of work – changed between February 2020 and spring 2021. Following up on responses to the European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS) 2020, it explores the differences between three distinct groups of workers: those teleworking during the COVID-19 pandemic, those who continued to work on their employers' premises as frontline staff, and those who were furloughed or worked reduced hours.
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.