COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on Europe's labour markets, taking the heaviest toll on the lowest paid sectors and those involving a high level of human interaction. Whereas the possibility of working remotely and the government measures taken across Europe have managed to cushion the most severe blows by keeping people employed and businesses running, the EU and the Member States will have to take action to curb inequalities once the support policies are withdrawn
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The first COVID-19 lockdowns saw the number of teleworkers in the EU workforce skyrocket from 5% to 40%. One year later and with telework here to stay, it is still difficult to deliver a proper assessment of its impact on employers, employees and society as a whole. The EESC points to the need for more research to be carried out and for a long-term perspective to be taken, with a view to harnessing the benefits and mitigating the risks of this form of work
Despite all the benefits of teleworking, it is now important not to slide into a culture of "round-the-clock" availability of employees
Social dialogue is a pillar of the European social model that can be used to swiftly respond to crises and deal with their consequences. Yet in many countries it is still fragmented and takes place only occasionally
Platforms bring many benefits to the economy, such as helping job creation and giving workers more flexibility and independence – but they can still carry many risks for both the labour force and society
To adjust to the new world of work, people will need many skill sets acquired in different learning environments.
The European Economic and Social Committee backs up the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative of the European Commission. The initiative is aimed at promoting investment in the healthcare systems of the European Member States and other sectors of their economies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. To this end, the EU would mobilise cash reserves, i.e. unspent pre-financing for EU funds, and provide financial support.
An EESC report finds the situation in the live-in care sector to be unsustainable, with working conditions of carers bordering on sheer exploitation and care recipients struggling to find affordable and quality care. This state of affairs has emerged due to a lack of state support for the care industry and is a product of political neglect.
With more than one in five citizens at risk of poverty or social exclusion, the EESC proposes minimum standards in unemployment insurance to better support, protect and reintegrate those who are out of work, no matter where in the EU they live.
EESC debate takes stock and discusses steps to take