Throughout 2021, the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, specific occupational health and safety rules were reintroduced due to increases in infection rates. Mandatory face masks, physical distancing and hygiene measures were enforced, and the recommendation to telework was largely re-instated in phases of high epidemiological risk. In many countries, employers were obliged to perform a COVID-19 risk assessment and implement measures accordingly.
Two years after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, social dialogue continues to make a significant contribution to helping economies recover. Managing the crisis led many governments to rely on tripartite social dialogue to develop the policies that would mitigate the negative impact of the pandemic on the economy and the labour market. This was borne out by the intensification of activities by national social dialogue institutions and by the agreements signed in many countries. In 2021, tripartite social dialogue shifted its focus from crisis mitigation measures to recovery and issues such as minimum wages and the green transition.
In the second pandemic year 2021, access to one’s place of work was increasingly dependent on providing proof of either having been tested, vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19 in several countries. Specific professional groups – such as essential workers and workers in critical infrastructure – were prioritised in vaccination programmes. A general vaccination mandate was introduced only in one country – Austria – where, however, the legislation was suspended shortly after its launch. In several countries, vaccination was made mandatory for specific employee groups, and this policy, if contested, was by and large endorsed by court rulings. Social partners have generally encouraged employees to get vaccinated, with unions mostly opposed to both the obligation on workers to disclose their vaccination status and mandatory vaccinations.
Minimum wages have risen significantly in 2022, as the EU Member States leave behind the cautious mood of the pandemic. However, rising inflation is eating up these wage increases, and only flexibility in the regular minimum wage setting processes may avoid generalised losses in purchasing power among minimum wage earners. On 6 June 2022, the Council of the EU and the European Parliament reached a political agreement on the Directive on adequate minimum wages proposed by the Commission in October 2020. Once formally approved, EU Member States will have to transpose it into national law within two years.
After a cautious round of minimum wage setting for 2021, nominal rates rose significantly for 2022 as the negative consequences of the pandemic eased and economies and labour markets improved. In this context, 20 of the 21 EU Member States with statutory minimum wages raised their rates. Substantial growth was apparent in the central and eastern European Member States compared with the pre-enlargement Member States, while the largest increase occurred in Germany. When inflation is taken into account, however, the minimum wage increased in real terms in only six Member States.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine and the resulting sanctions have caused energy prices to soar. Governments seeking to alleviate the negative impacts of price increases on households have introduced energy subsidies and VAT reductions for electricity, gas and fuel. While such policies may be needed to protect those most in need, subsidising energy use is a short-term solution – it is a temporary, partial compensation that does not always reach those who are hardest hit. Added to this, subsidising fossil fuel energy use conflicts with the EU’s aims to limit carbon emissions and maintains its energy dependency on third countries, such as Russia.
We are 100 days on from the invasion by Russia of Ukraine on 24 February, when peace in Europe was shattered. As the human tragedy began to unfold and with more than 6.8 million Ukrainians, mostly women and children, escaping their country since the start of the war, European citizens have been watching developments with increasing concern.
Capturing this critical moment, Eurofound carried out a survey in April 2022 asking over 40,000 people living in Europe their views on a range of issues, including the war in Ukraine.
Digitisation and automation technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI), can affect working conditions in a variety of ways and their use in the workplace raises a host of new ethical concerns. Recently, the policy debate surrounding these concerns has become more prominent and has increasingly focused on AI. This report maps relevant European and national policy and regulatory initiatives. It explores the positions and views of social partners in the policy debate on the implications of technological change for work and employment.
This publication consists of individual country reports on working life during 2021 for 28 countries – the 27 EU Member States and Norway. The country reports summarise evidence on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on working life based on national research and survey results during 2021. They outline the policy responses of governments and social partners in their efforts to cushion the socioeconomic effects and include a focus on policy areas related to adapting to the pandemic and the return to work.
Today is Europe Day, and one hundred young people from Ireland and Ukraine will be marking the event at Eurofound, in peaceful south Dublin. Europe Day has traditionally been seen as a celebration of peace and unity in Europe, but, unfortunately, it must be marked differently this year. Europe Day 2022 must rather reaffirm the values of Europe: human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, rule of law and human rights. These values are now being tested daily and must be rigorously defended for the future of Europe and the future of our young people.
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.
This series brings together publications and other outputs of the European Jobs Monitor (EJM), which tracks structural change in European labour markets. The EJM analyses shifts in the employment structure in the EU in terms of occupation and sector and gives a qualitative assessment of these shifts using various proxies of job quality – wages, skill-levels, etc.
Eurofound's European Quality of Life Survey (EQLS) examines both the objective circumstances of European citizens' lives and how they feel about those circumstances and their lives in general. This series consists of outputs from the EQLS 2016, the fourth edition of the survey. The survey was first carried out in 2003.
Eurofound’s European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS) paints a wide-ranging picture of Europe at work across countries, occupations, sectors and age groups. This series consists of findings from the EWCS 2015, the sixth edition of the survey. The survey was first carried out in 1990.
Eurofound’s European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS) paints a wide-ranging picture of Europe at work across countries, occupations, sectors and age groups. This series consists of findings from the EWCS 1996, the second edition of the survey. The survey was first carried out in 1990.
Eurofound’s European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS) paints a wide-ranging picture of Europe at work across countries, occupations, sectors and age groups. This series consists of findings from the EWCS 2001, which was an extension of the EWCS 2000 to cover the then 12 acceding and candidate countries. The survey was first carried out in 1990.
Eurofound’s European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS) paints a wide-ranging picture of Europe at work across countries, occupations, sectors and age groups. This series consists of findings from the EWCS 2000, the third edition of the survey. The survey was first carried out in 1990.
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 first edition of the survey carried out in 2004–2005 under the name European Establishment Survey on Working Time and Work-Life Balance.
The report describes trends in social and economic discontent across the EU between 2002 and 2020, highlighting in particular the turbulent times brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. The report explores the evolution of social cohesion and its impact on economic and social discontent. It assesses the relationship between social cohesion and discontent during the pandemic, allowing for a comparison of the situation as it stands in 2023. The focus of the report is on regions where social cohesion is low, where a contrast is drawn with regions where social cohesion is much higher.
This report analyses the working conditions and job quality of different types of self-employed workers. Drawing on data from the European Working Conditions Survey, it looks into policies in Member States aimed at addressing the challenges and opportunities associated with specific types of self-employment.
This study provides information allowing for an assessment of the representativeness of the actors involved in the European sectoral social dialogue committee for the chemical 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 this Eurofound’s study on representativeness is to identify the relevant national and European social partner organisations in the chemical sector in the EU Member States.
The focus of this report is on the role that human capital plays in determining inequalities across the EU, as well as within Member States. Using Cedefop’s work in this area, the report provides a comparative analysis of national trends in education and lifelong learning, including differences between educational groups in terms of income, living conditions and health.
The report maps trends in income inequality and examines the situation of the middle classes in the EU during 2020, the year most associated with the COVID-19 lockdowns. It charts developments in the size and composition of middle-class households across countries, identifies those that suffered disproportionately in 2020. Taking a longer lens, the report describes the evolution of income inequalities over the last 15 years, comparing the Great Recession (2007–2009) with the COVID-19 pandemic, and outlines the trends both between and within Member States.
This report explores the implications of the right of all EU citizens to live independently. It investigates the barriers faced by people who wish to live independently, and the situation of people at risk of living in institutional settings. It maps the various measures taken by EU Member States to foster independent living and autonomy. The report also includes policy pointers to support future decision-makers and provides a review of lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic.