The massive and rapid adoption of telework in 2020 in response to the COVID-19 lockdowns exposed gaps in the legislation governing telework arrangements across the EU Member States. In some cases, there was no regulation in place; in others, it was too restrictive. Governments scrambled to put temporary measures in place to cover the emergency situation and the urgent need to enable workers to work from home. Now that the pandemic is receding and wholesale telework seems to be here to stay, governments are faced with the need to properly regulate such arrangements. Member States are following different paths, but the EU might step in to promote some level of standardisation.
The third round of Eurofound's e-survey, fielded in February and March 2021, sheds light on the social and economic situation of people across Europe following nearly a full year of living with COVID-19 restrictions. This report analyses the main findings and tracks ongoing developments and trends across the 27 EU Member States since the survey was first launched in April 2020.
The enormity of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the lives and work of Europeans is hard to capture, but Eurofound’s priority in 2020 was to record and assess the experience of this societal upheaval across the EU Member States in all its detail, variety and modulation. Living and working in Europe 2020 provides a snapshot of how the COVID-19 confinement measures changed employment, work and quality of life in Europe, as gathered by Eurofound’s research activities in 2020.
The COVID-19 crisis had a significant impact on wages and wage setting across Europe in 2020. The uncertain economic scenario, together with the difficulties inherent in online bargaining, led to a general postponement of collective agreements to 2021, especially at company level. Real wages maintained a positive trend during 2020 in most EU countries, with just modest increases, while higher increases were observed in the public sector.
On 9 May, the Conference on the Future of Europe will get underway. Floated well before the COVID-19 outbreak, its timing in the wake of the seismic shifts precipitated by the pandemic, and its implementation alongside the European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan, means that the outcomes could be far-reaching.
The pandemic has had differential impacts on women. Raised consciousness about them must be applied to advance gender equality in recovery measures. All crises have a strongly gendered impact and none more so than the current pandemic, across a range of indicators. While the virus itself seems to take a greater toll on men than women when it comes to fatalities, women appear to have been worse affected in terms of labour market impact.
A first analysis of developments in working life in 2020 shows that the COVID-19 pandemic had a considerable impact on social dialogue and collective bargaining in the EU, Norway and the UK, albeit to varying degrees. While in some countries, standard procedures were by and large maintained, in others, tripartite consultation was sidelined in the face of time pressure and an uncertain economic environment. Collective bargaining was often postponed or suspended indefinitely, especially in those sectors that were hit hard by government-imposed lockdowns. The number of renewed collective agreements decreased sharply in some countries.
EU Member States acted swiftly in the early phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, introducing measures aimed at cushioning the impact of the crisis on society, the economy and the labour market. In some countries, policies targeted businesses and employers directly; elsewhere, employees and self-employed people in sectors negatively affected by lockdowns were given dedicated support first.
A first analysis of working life policies and developments in 2020 shows that the COVID-19 pandemic has in some cases speeded up and in other cases slowed down several policy developments in the EU, Norway and the UK, albeit to varying degrees, and dependent on national contexts. Increased teleworking led to a number of accelerated policy developments to address the new work reality for many employees.
Long-term care (LTC) workforce: employment and working conditions 19 April 2021, European Parliament’s Employment and Social Affairs Committee virtual meeting Presentation by Hans Dubois, Research Manager, Eurofound
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.
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.