On 19 March 1997, the European Commission launched the second stage of
consultations with the social partners under the Maastricht Agreement on
social policy on the proposal for an EU policy to counter sexual harassment
at work. At this second stage, the social partners will be able to choose
whether to go down the route of negotiation - leading to a framework
agreement which can be given legal validity at the EU level. The alternative
would be to submit their views in anticipation of a policy initiative
emanating from the Commission.
In November 1996, the UK Government failed in its attempt to have the 1993
Directive on certain aspects of the organisation of working time (93/104/EC)
- which lays down specific requirements concerning weekly hours, holidays,
shifts and other patterns of work - annulled by the ECJ. The DTI launched
consultations with business organisations on implementation of the Directive
in December 1996, and the process was completed in March 1997. The DTI is now
analysing the responses, but is unlikely to produce the results until some
time after the 1 May general election.
Under the terms of the Works Constitution Act  (Betriebsverfassungsgesetz,
§§ 111f), a procedure known as "reconcilement of interests "
(Interessenausgleich) aims at reconciling the positions of the employer and
the workforce in case of a proposed substantial alteration of the
establishment, or of bankruptcy. This involves weighing the respective
interests against one another, as well as reaching an agreement on the
procedure of change and the necessary human resource planning. Detailed
arrangements for the subsequent implementation of the changes are then
subject to the co-determination rights of the works council . In cases
where the employer makes no attempt to arrive at an agreed reconcilement of
interests, or without compelling reasons fails to abide by one, employees who
are dismissed or suffer economic disadvantage as a result may claim
compensation for the loss of their job. A social plan  (Sozialplan) is a
programme drawn up in the form of a special works agreement 
(Betriebsvereinbarung) between the employer and the works council, and
resembles a special form of redundancy programme. It contains the
compensation packages and the human resource policies available to the
employees affected by the changes. There is no obligation to draw up a social
plan, provided that: the proposed alteration to the establishment consists
solely of dismissals; certain maximum limits in terms of a percentage of the
total workforce are not exceeded; or the case involves a newly formed
A working group set up by the Standing Committee of the European Central
Banks' Trade Unions met in Ferreira do Zêzere in March, and issued a
declaration relating to the rights of workers involved in the production and
circulation of the Euro.
In a Communication published in March 1997, the European Commission calls for
the modernisation, adaptation and improvement of social protection systems in
the member states. It argues that these systems, most of which were
established decades ago, no longer conform with the changing economic and
social conditions of today's society. The Commission sees a particular need
for social protection systems, which currently account for 28% of total EU
GDP, to be adapted to:
At the beginning of March the first steps were taken towards the creation of
the first "European super union". One of Britain's biggest trade unions, the
General, Municipal and Boilermakers' Union (GMB), signed a joint membership
agreement with the German chemical workers' union. The deal between the GMB
and IG Chemie-Papier-Keramik means that 1.8 million workers will be entitled
to joint membership. Although the two unions may not provide the same
services, UK workers in Germany can expect legal advice, support from
representatives, and training facilities, while German workers in the UK can
expect legal advice, health and safety information and financial benefits
(Record DE9703206N ).
Health and safety at work has arisen as a very serious matter of social
concern over recent years and has become a focus of interest for both the
state and the social institutions concerned. The magnitude and complexity of
the problem and the need to find direct and effective solutions have induced
both employers and employees to examine the problem of occupational hazards
and conditions affecting the working environment in general. It is estimated
that in Greece the national economy is burdened by GRD 20 billion a year due
to accidents at work (excluding costs of medical care). The Social Insurance
Foundation (IKA) alone receives 25,000 reports of accidents at work a year.
The problem is even bigger if we add in the cost of occupational illnesses
which remain undiagnosed, since these are ignored by the official statistics.
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.
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.