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.
This programming document describes Eurofound’s planned work over the programming period 2021–2024. It sets out the policy and institutional context for the programme, describes the multiannual programme for the four-year period and sets out the work programme for 2021. Eurofound’s priorities for 2021–2024 are shaped by the key challenges for social cohesion and just transitions in a changing environment in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis. The Agency focuses on issues where it can draw on its core expertise in the areas of working conditions, industrial relations, employment and living conditions, to support its stakeholders, by providing evidence that can assist their policy action.
Whatever the benefits of telework – and there are many, including more flexible working time, increased productivity and less commuting – there are drawbacks, as many of the one-third of Europeans who were exclusively working from home during the pandemic will attest. Primary among these is the ‘always on’ culture that telework engenders, encouraging workers to respond to emails, phone calls and texts from work long after the working day or week has ended. This situation may be aggravated if the organisational culture at work incentivises employees to accept heavy workloads and put in overtime, often unpaid. All of which upsets work–life balance, leading to conflicts between work and home life, insufficient rest and health problems like work-related stress and sleep disorders.
An ageing Europe and rising public expenditure on long-term care have signalled for some time that the fundamentals of care provision need to be addressed. However, the shocking death toll in care homes during the COVID-19 pandemic and the fact that many long-term care services were ill-equipped to protect their vulnerable users have lately focused the public mind on the issue. Most people in the EU will need such care for themselves or someone close to them at some stage in their lives. Demand is already escalating, as the rise in the long-term care workforce – by a third in just a decade – testifies. Calls for a European care strategy rightly insist that care users be listened to, but here we highlight others in the system whose needs deserve attention too.
According to the dictionary, an organisation is an organised group of people with a particular purpose. To achieve this purpose, tasks are divided between the members of the group, and the task of some of those people is to manage the others. Interestingly, whereas most tasks are allocated based on competence and qualifications, the allocation of the task of managing people is often based on a different rationale. Many managers are appointed to their role because they exceled at the tasks that are carried out by the people they are supposed to manage. Many business owners take on the management of their staff, regardless of whether this is where their strengths lie. But people management is not easy and requires skills that, contrary to what is often assumed, are not just learned by doing.
As Europe braces for a winter wave of the Coronavirus, behind the public health indicators that rightly dominate the headlines, a revolution in working life is under way. In early spring, millions of people throughout Europe took their work home and tried to rapidly adjust to the new world in which they found themselves. The unfolding changes in working life from this sharp shock look set to be a 'révolution tranquille', where longstanding principles and practices could be fundamentally changed for decades to come. The decisions that are made now will ultimately determine the nature of how this revolution will unfold, and what it will mean for workers and employers alike.
This study provides information allowing for an assessment of the representativeness of the actors involved in the European sectoral social dialogue committee for the human health 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. The aim of Eurofound’s studies on representativeness is to identify the relevant national and European social partner organisations in the field of industrial relations in the EU Member States.
This report has a dual focus. First, it reviews recent restructuring activity in the EU, from January 2019 up to and including the first impacts of the COVID-19 crisis. The second part presents an analysis of transnational restructuring cases – those that affect workers in more than one country. The main source for both analyses is the European Restructuring Monitor events database, which has collected details of over 25,000 large-scale restructurings since it began in 2002, including nearly 2,000 since the beginning of 2019.
Following a sluggish response by many Member States to introduce or modify gender pay transparency measures, as it recommended in 2014, the European Commission intends to table a proposal for EU-level legislation on pay transparency later in 2020. In this context, a new Eurofound study investigated whether key people at company level see these measures as useful or beneficial. The results show that the richer pay audits are favoured over the simpler pay reports in terms of their perceived usefulness. Both managers and employee representatives agree on this.
Megatrends, such as digitalisation, globalisation, demographic change and climate change, are transforming the world of work, with knock-on effects for working conditions and job quality. Against this background, this report examines working conditions and job quality from a sectoral perspective, using data from the 2015 European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS). The report first outlines the sectoral characteristics underpinning employment – economic structure, demographics, occupational level and employment status.
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.
Automation and digitisation technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI), are undergoing a rapid evolution. This impacts working conditions in a variety of ways and raises a host of new ethical concerns. In recent times, the policy debate surrounding these concerns has become more prominent and has increasingly focused on AI. Key EU policy developments, especially in relation to AI, have shaped the policy debate in many EU Member States, and in some instances they have led to the adoption of new policy initiatives that address these concerns in the context of work and employment.
Every year, Eurofound compiles a report summarising the key developments in minimum wages across EU countries. The report explains how minimum wages are set and describes the role of social partners, covering the evolution of statutory rates, collectively agreed wages and the national debates on these issues.
As part of a process to collect information on essential services, the European Commission (DG EMPL) requested Eurofound to provide input on certain aspects of existing and planned measures in the Member States to improve access to essential services, in reference to Principle 20 of the European Pillar of Social Rights. The scope of the exercise included energy services, public transport and digital communications, and the focus was on people at risk of poverty or social exclusion (in practice, people on low incomes in most cases).
The civil aviation sector has been deeply impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is one of the most severe crises the sector has ever experienced, giving rise to a number of significant challenges for companies and workers alike. This study will explore the role of social dialogue and collective bargaining in how the sector is adapting to the pandemic. What kinds of changes have been introduced, either through social dialogue or collective bargaining? Are the changes temporary or permanent?
This report investigates the practical implementation of the European Works Council (EWC) Directive at company level. It explores the challenges faced by existing EWCs and provides examples of identified solutions and remaining issues from the point of view of both workers and management. The report looks at the way that EWCs meet the requirements of the EWC Directive in terms of establishing processes of information and consultation.
This report will map the existing regulations on telework in European Union Member States, including in legislation and collective agreements. It will present the most recent changes to these regulations and shed light on how the future of (tele)work could be regulated at both national and EU level, in order to improve working conditions in telework arrangements and reduce the risks associated with telework and with specific ways of working remotely.
This report explores the association between skills use and skills strategies and establishment performance, and how other workplace practices, in terms of work organisation, human resources management and employee involvement, can impact on this. It looks at how skills shortages can be addressed, at least in part, by creating an environment in which employees are facilitated and motivated to make better use of the skills they already have. This further supports the business case for a more holistic approach to management.
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.
This report focuses on trends and developments in collective bargaining that were evident from the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. It examines potential new strategic approaches and priorities incorporated in negotiation agendas, as well as collective bargaining practices and coordination at sector and company levels in the private sector.
This policy brief will provide an update on upward convergence in the economic, social and institutional dimensions of the European Union, as outlined in the European Pillar of Social Rights and its accompanying Social Scoreboard.