While women appear to be more resilient than men to COVID-19 in terms of health outcomes, that is not the case when it comes to the economic and social fallout. Measures taken by governments to control the spread of the virus are exacerbating gender divides in unemployment, domestic labour and financial security, all to the disadvantage of women. Meanwhile, work–life conflict is escalating as people work from home, with mothers of small children often bearing the brunt of the impact.
While we now know that the idea that ‘COVID-19 only affects older people’ is fake news, the first weeks of the pandemic have shown that young people are in general more resilient than older people to the disease. But are they also more resilient to its social and economic impacts?
The impact of COVID-19 continues to create chaos in people’s lives across Europe and the world. The economy is heading towards another major dip, and a sense of general insecurity pervades. The daunting challenges confronting health services and projections on the long-term impact of the crisis dominate the discourse in the media – and with good reason. But what do we actually know about how the pandemic is affecting us all? How are Europe’s citizens really experiencing this crisis, beyond the graphic drama of individual disease, death and macroeconomic concerns?
A debate has started in Italy about the support that the state should provide to undeclared workers operating in the informal economy during the COVID-19 crisis. Nunzia Catalfo, Italy’s Minister of Labour in April stated that ‘undeclared work should not exist’ but went on to acknowledge ‘it is a plague that exists’ and that the state has an obligation to provide for all those who have been left without an income in the current emergency. However, this is not an easy step for governments to take, and much is at stake in bringing undeclared workers into the social security fold.
In the space of just a few weeks, the COVID-19 pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus has radically transformed the lives of people around the globe. Apart from the devastating health consequences on people directly affected by the virus, the COVID-19 pandemic has had major implications for the way people live and work, affecting their physical and mental well-being in a profound way. To capture the immediate economic and social effects of this crisis, Eurofound launched a large-scale online survey across the European Union and beyond on 9 April.
On 2 April, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced a new fund of up to €100 billion to support EU Member States to introduce short-time working or similar schemes, including for the self-employed, in an effort to safeguard jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Known as SURE (Support to mitigate Unemployment Risks in an Emergency), the initiative will finance loans on favourable terms to EU countries facing a ‘sudden and severe’ rise in spending on such schemes and is designed to show EU solidarity with hard hit Member States and workers.
Social partners’ reactions to the Commission's proposals for a strong social Europe, including a minimum fair wage initiative, are the main topics of interest in this article. This EU update reports on the latest developments in working life in the EU in the first quarter of 2020. Topics related to the COVID-19 pandemic are presented in a separate article.
‘Digital transformation’ has been a buzzword in policy circles for some time now, and commitments to making it work for citizens, business and society as whole abound. Brussels has been no exception – the European Commission presented its data and artificial intelligence (AI) strategies in February of this year. But a closer look at what has been set out so far reveals a missing link between digital transformation and social policy.
In early March 2020, working life in EU Member States came under enormous pressure due to the rapid spread of the COVID-19 disease and the precautionary measures taken by governments in subsequent weeks. This article gives a brief overview of the first reactions of European institutions and some of the responses by EU social partners to those challenges in the first quarter of 2020.
Up to the start of 2020, recent EU economic and labour market trends were often discussed in terms of the periods before and after the Great Recession. It now appears likely that, in the short- to medium-term, the repercussions of that economic crisis will be dwarfed by the unfolding impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly on businesses and employment in the sectors most affected by the shutdown – not to speak of the cost in human lives.
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.
The European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS) launched in 1990 and is carried out every five years, with the latest edition in 2020. 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 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 two rounds – in April and in July 2020. 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 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.
Eurofound's representativness 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 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.
The European Quality of Life Survey (EQLS) is carried out every four to five years since its inception in 2003, with the latest edition in 2016. It examines both the objective circumstances of people's lives and how they feel about those circumstances and their lives in general. It covers issues around employment, income, education, housing, family, health and work–life balance. It also looks at subjective topics, such as people's levels of happiness and life satisfaction, and perceptions of the quality of society.
Closing gender gaps in the labour market by achieving the equal participation of women is among the key objectives of the new Gender Equality Strategy 2020–2025. Despite significant progress in reducing the gender employment gap, it has stagnated over the past few years. Moreover, segregation in employment across sectors and occupations is still pervasive.
The long-term care (LTC) sector employs an increasing share of workers in the EU, with increasing shortages. The LTC workforce is mainly female and a relatively large and increasing proportion is 50 or older. Migrants are often concentrated in certain LTC jobs. This report maps the working conditions, the nature of employment and the role of collective bargaining in the sector. It also discusses policies to make the sector more attractive, combat undeclared work and to improve the situation of a particular vulnerable group of LTC workers: live-in carers.
The EU strives for the upward convergence of its Member States, where their performance improves and gaps between them decrease. Nearly a decade after the Great Recession, the COVID-19 crisis has again put this objective under pressure. This policy brief focuses on convergence in material well-being in Europe. Trends in several indicators largely follow the economic cycle, with upward convergence in good times and downward divergence in bad times.
Social, economic and technological changes are giving rise to new forms of employment. These differ from 'traditional' work either in the relationship between employer and employee or in the unconventional work patterns and places of work that characterise them. While these new forms of employment can contribute to more inclusive labour markets, legalise undeclared work and offer preferential working conditions, some also raise concerns about, for example, job quality and representation. This report updates Eurofound's 2015 mapping of emerging trends.
New digital technologies have expanded the possibilities of employee monitoring and surveillance, both in and outside the workplace. In the context of the increasing digitalisation of work, there are many issues related to employee monitoring that warrant the attention of policymakers. There are the often-cited privacy and ethical concerns but also important implications for worker–employer relations, as digitally enabled monitoring and surveillance inevitably shift power dynamics in the workplace.
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 administration 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.
This flagship report consolidates findings in the industrial relations field from research conducted by Eurofound over the course of its multiannual work programme for 2017–2020. It considers the strengths and weaknesses of European social dialogue, including the linkages with national social dialogue and the capacity constraints of the actors. A national comparative analysis draws on projects that have mapped the key features of national industrial relations systems.
How can working conditions be improved to make work more sustainable over the life course? This question has been the guiding principle for analysis of the 2015 European Working Conditions Survey data during the period of Eurofound’s work programme for 2017–2020. This flagship report brings together the different research strands from this work and gives a comprehensive answer to the question. It includes an analysis of trends in working conditions, examining whether these are the same for all workers or whether inequalities between different groups of workers are increasing.
This report builds on Eurofound's existing research on social mobility, assessing the distribution and transmission of wealth in Member States. It examines the roles of inheritance and household debt in explaining the transmission of advantage or disadvantage between the generations across Member States. The analysis is based on Eurosystem's Household Finance and Consumption Survey (HFCS).
This report analyses the involvement of the national social partners in the implementation of policy reforms within the framework of social dialogue practices, and their involvement in elaborating the National Reform Programmes (NRPs) and other key policy documents of the European Semester cycle.