Eurobarometer: Only half of Europeans say they have good working conditions

In many ways, the economic crisis has shifted the gender balance in the labour market [Shutterstock]

Woman at work

Over half of Europeans (53%) say that working conditions are good, according to a new survey by Eurobarometer covering the 28 member states.

At the same time, almost 60% say their working conditions have deteriorated in the last 5 years. 27% say conditions have stayed the same, while 12% think they have improved. But 77% of the respondents still say that they are ‘satisfied’ with their current working conditions, though these have deteriorated in the last five years, according to almost 60% of the workers.

Working conditions were defined in the survey as working time, work organisation, health and safety at work, employee representation and relation with the employer.

The survey reveals wide disparities in worker satisfaction between member states. While 87% of the Danes say their working conditions are good, only 16% of Greeks say the same.

Among the countries where respondents are satisfied with their current working conditions, Denmark also came on top (94%), followed by the Austrians and Belgians (both at 90%) and the Finns (89%).

Greece is the only country where fewer than half of all working respondents said that they are satisfied with their current working conditions (38%), although satisfaction in Spain (53%), Romania and Croatia (both 60%) is also notably lower than the EU average of 77%.

The Eurobarometer survey also shows that people who are currently employed are much more likely to say working conditions in their country are good compared to people who are not currently working (61% and 46%, respectively). Employees are also more likely to say that working conditions in their country are good (64%) compared to self-employed (54%) and manual workers (52%).

26,571 people were interviewed for the Eurobarometer working condition survey.

In 2011, a European Parliament report on the Occupational Safety and Health at work (OSH) led by MEP Karima Delli stressed that further harmonisation at EU level had to be developed, especially in tackling the development of new psycho-social risks.

Even though EU legislation on OSH existed in the form of a 1989 framework directive and other directives on specific risks or sectors, like REACH, psycho-social risks were not sufficiently dealt with, highlighted the Parliament’s report.

The Commission is currently undertaking in-depth analysis in order to decide on the next steps concerning a  future EU occupational health and safety policy framework.

This in-depth analysis includes an evaluation of the previous EU OSH Strategy 2007-2012,  consultation of relevant stakeholders such as  the Advisory Committee on Safety and Health at Work and Senior Labour Inspectors' Committee, and obtaining feedback from all interested parties through the public consultation launched in the summer of 2013.

The precise timing of the strategy has not been decided but it could be in the Spring of 2014.

  • Spring 2014: Commission might publish a strategy - or a policy framework -on health and safety

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