Activities of the European Commission and social partners regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, the high-level hearing on implementing the European Pillar of Social Rights and a fair EU minimum wage initiative are the main topics of interest in this article. This EU update reports on the latest developments in working life in EU in the second quarter of 2020.
Around three-quarters of the EU workforce is employed in the service sector, and a sizeable portion of service workers interact directly with the recipients of the services they provide, such as clients, patients, pupils and so on. This can be demanding work as it routinely places emotional demands on these workers and can have an impact on their well-being. This policy brief examines the working conditions of people employed in
Minimum wages, one of the cornerstone issues for Ursula von der Leyen’s Commission, were a hot topic in the EU at the beginning of the year. Then the COVID-19 public health crisis struck. Now, with an economic crisis and recession looming, the question is not only what impact the crisis has had on minimum wage earners, but also what is the impact on the debate itself. How can the European Commission and Member States ensure minimum wages that are fair and provide a decent standard of living during and following a ‘black swan’ such as the Coronacrisis?
How do organisations get the best out of their employees? Research on human resource management has found that a key practice is employee involvement: enabling employees to make decisions on their own work and to contribute to organisational decision-making. A high degree of employee involvement creates work environments that are highly motivational and that emphasise skill development. And this is the type of work environment that organisations need to meet the demands for innovation and adaptability to technological change in a knowledge-driven economy.
Collective agreements are among the panoply of national measures deemed appropriate mechanisms for the implementation of EU directives in the fields of social and employment policy and industrial relations. This role of collective agreements is prescribed by Article 153(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), which states that a Member State may entrust management and labour, at their joint request, with the implementation of labour law directives adopted.
Developments in information and communication technology (ICT) have been among the key drivers of change in working life over the past two decades. Specifically, telework and ICT-based mobile work (TICTM) exemplifies how digital technology has led to more flexible workplace and working time practices. However, the ability to work anywhere and at any time can lead to greater work intensification, competition and work-on-demand. If this is not explicitly addressed, it threatens to override the advantages that ICT-based flexible working brings to work–life balance.
Although EU law guarantees equal treatment for all among its founding principles, discrimination in the EU is not a thing of the past. Across Europe, 2% of workers report experiencing discrimination at work linked to each of the following: race, ethnic background, colour and nationality. A joint Eurofound–ILO report comparing working conditions globally found that discrimination at work can have a negative impact on people’s physical and mental health, as well as impeding their career prospects. Overall, experiencing discrimination means lower job quality.
This report describes Eurofound's activities, particularly its research, information and communication programmes and policy achievements, in relation to the objectives set in the Work Programme 2019. It also covers the management and external evaluation control systems, key performance indicators, and financial and HR information.
The effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the lives of individuals and societies, including on the economy and labour markets, is unprecedented. The impact of the global health emergency has placed a growing number of businesses under threat, putting the jobs of more and more workers at risk and impacting the livelihoods of many citizens. Policymakers moved swiftly in an effort to mitigate the social and economic effects on businesses, workers and citizens. Eurofound’s COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch database provides information on initiatives introduced to cushion these effects.
Although a small proportion of the EU workforce holds down more than one job, it is worth understanding the phenomenon better, not only because it is growing by degrees, but also because of the impact it can have on workers’ health and well-being and what it can tell us about the labour market. While there can be positive facets to multiple-job holding – it can, for example, be a stepping stone for career development – it can also have undesirable consequences for workers’ physical and mental health if it entails very long working hours and poor work–life balance.
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.
Given that compliance with lockdown measures is a first line of defence against COVID-19, maintaining trust in institutions is vital to ensure a coordinated, comprehensive and effective response to the pandemic. This report investigates developments in institutional and interpersonal trust across time, with a particular emphasis on the COVID-19 pandemic period and its impact. It examines the link between trust and discontent and investigates the effect of multidimensional inequalities as a driver of distrust.
This paper provides an analytical summary of state of the art academic and policy literature on the impact of climate change and policies to manage transitions to a carbon neutral economy on employment, working conditions, social dialogue and living conditions. It maps the key empirical findings around the impact of climate change and the green transitions on jobs, sectors, regions and countries in Europe, identifying the opportunities and risks that climate change policies bring to European labour markets.
Between 2021 and 2023 Eurofound is carrying out a pilot project on minimum wage on behalf of the European Commission. The question of how minimum wages and other forms of pay can be fixed for the self-employed is investigated as a part of this project through mapping national and sectoral approaches. Out of concern for the challenging conditions that the self-employed face, some Member States have established or are discussing establishing statutory forms of minimum pay for certain categories of self-employed.
Lockdown measures and the economic shift following the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a widening of the gender divide between men and women, putting at risk some of the gender equality gains that had been made in previous years. This report analyses changes in the distribution of paid and unpaid work, along with care and domestic responsibilities, among men and women during the crisis. It also explores the impact of the pandemic on the well-being of women and men.
The report provides an overview of the scale of teleworking before and during the COVID-19 crisis and gives an indication of ‘teleworkability’ across sectors and occupations. Building on previous Eurofound research on remote work, the report investigates the way businesses introduced and supported teleworking during the pandemic, as well as the experience of workers who were working from home during the crisis. The report also looks at developments in regulations related to telework in Member States and provides a review of stakeholders’ positions.
The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have varied across sectors, occupations and categories of worker (for instance, according to gender, age or employment status). Hours worked have declined the most in sectors such as accommodation services and food and beverage services, and in occupations heavily reliant on in-person interaction, such as sales work. At the same time, it’s in these sectors that labour shortages have become increasingly evident as labour markets have begun to normalise.
The COVID-19 crisis has increased inequality between social groups in health, housing, employment, income and well-being. While a small part of society was able to hold on to or increase its wealth, other groups such as women, young people, older people, people with disabilities, low- and middle-income earners and those with young children were acutely affected by the pandemic. Drawing on current research on how to best measure multidimensional inequality, this report highlights recent trends in inequality in the context of the COVID-19 crisis.
The financial services sector is pertinent for studying the impact of digitalisation, as the main ‘raw material’ of the sector is digitally stored and processed. Process automation in the sector is likely to lead to significant job losses over the next 10 years, as the high street bank presence declines and the online bank presence increasingly accounts for a higher share of overall activity. Such trends have already been identified in bank restructurings captured in Eurofound’s European Restructuring Monitor.
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.
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.