The COVID-19 pandemic closed or limited many economic activities in 2020, with far-reaching impacts on the labour market. Employment losses at the outset of the pandemic were sharper than those experienced during the global financial crisis. Even greater declines in hours worked arose as a result of the widespread state-supported furloughing of workers. The physical distancing policies of governments led to another significant and largely ad hoc adjustment – the shift to mass remote working for those workers whose jobs allowed it.
The most relevant changes in working time regulation in Europe in 2019 and 2020 addressed challenges arising as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most focused on short-time working schemes, on approaches to teleworking for those able to work from home and on regulations to ensure the safe provision of essential services. In 2020, the average collectively agreed working week in the EU stood at 37.8 hours. Across the sectors analysed in the report, the collectively agreed normal working week was shortest in public administration (38 hours) and longest in transport (39.2 hours).
Challenges for sustainable work 07 October 2021, High-level conference on 'Quality Work for a Quality Life' - Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the European Union Presentation by Barbara Gerstenberger, Head of Unit for Working Life, Eurofound
The economic and labour market contribution of international businesses is well recognised, but policymakers could do more to help such enterprises to develop their activities. This policy brief explores the workplace practices in export-oriented establishments that may contribute to their success. It also identifies aspects of their workplace practices that can result in ‘win–win’ outcomes, ones that are mutually beneficial for employers and employees.
The impact of COVID-19 has moved public health up the EU social policy agenda. As the EU directs its efforts towards establishing a European Health Union to guard against future health crises, this policy brief examines the extent to which the EU achieved upward convergence in terms of health and healthcare outcomes, as well as health expenditures and delivery, prior to the pandemic. It also examines convergence patterns in infections and deaths from COVID-19 and in the mitigating measures adopted by the EU and national governments.
For more than a decade, uncertainty about the future in most parts of the EU has been growing. Many people believe society is in decline and this has given rise to a general sense of pessimism. Is there a link between the rising popularity of anti-establishment parties and increasing pessimism? These negative sentiments could adversely affect the political climate within individual Member States and also undermine the legitimacy of the European project.
Digital technologies have made it possible for many workers to carry out their work at any time and anywhere, with consequent advantages and disadvantages. Eurofound data show that teleworkers are twice as likely to exceed the 48-hour working time limit, take insufficient rest and work in their free time, with knock-on effects on their physical and mental health. To address this issue, there have been calls for the ‘right to disconnect’. This report is based on case studies that chart the implementation and impact of the right to disconnect at workplace level.
The COVID-19 pandemic prompted a surge in telework, with dramatic increases in the number of employees working from home (teleworking) in many European countries. What for many employees started out as a mandatory move seems to have transformed into a preference among the majority for part-time or full-time telework.
Following the declines in employment rates and working hours across Europe in 2020, economies began to show signs of recovery during the first quarter of 2021. The gradual rekindling of economic activity has led to a surge in demand for workers and reawakened concerns over labour shortages. Difficulty filling vacancies was thought to be among the key factors holding back growth, competitiveness and service delivery in a number of sectors prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. Despite a temporary weakening in demand for labour during the pandemic, this was not the case in all sectors, with some seeing pre-existing shortages worsen.
While unemployment is still a huge challenge in Europe, some countries, sectors and occupations are experiencing labour shortages. This report explores various approaches to identifying labour shortages and maps national policy debates around the issue. It documents public and social partner interventions to tackle labour shortages, such as measures fostering geographical or occupational mobility, addressing skills shortages and underinvestment in skills, improving working and employment conditions, and providing better matching procedures.
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.
Building on previous work by Eurofound, this report will investigate intergenerational dynamics over time. During the 2008 double-dip recession, worrying intergenerational divides appeared in many Member States, and while some of the economic and social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is universal, early data suggests disparities across demographic cohorts. Eurofound will examine how different age groups may have been affected in terms of their health, labour market participation, quality of life and financial needs, both in the short term and in the long term.
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.
This study provides information allowing for an assessment of the representativeness of the actors involved in European sectoral social dialogue taking place at cross-sectoral level. 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 at cross-sectoral level in the EU Member States.