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  • Writer's pictureYouri Tabet

Weekly News: our selection of analysis on short-time work schemes and the impact of COVID-19

Every week, Policy Shift shares a selection of recent articles and publications focused on public policy and innovation. This week's theme deals with short-term work schemes and gender equality – notably in light of the COVID-19 crisis.

The impact of COVID-19 on gender equality

According to the authors of this paper, "unlike most previous economic crises, this crisis has the potential to do disproportionate damage to women’s jobs and incomes. This column describes how confinement and distancing measures are threatening to shatter several female-dominated industries, including retail, accommodation services, and food and beverage service activities. This puts many women’s jobs at risk, and even when they do not work for ‘at-risk’ industries, many women are struggling to balance work with the additional care responsibilities caused by school and childcare closures. When formulating policy responses to the crisis, it is crucial that governments do not ignore the impact the crisis can, is, and will have on women’s lives."

According to the authors of this article, "the COVID-19 outbreak has forced schools and day care centres to close their doors. In response, many parents are now juggling housework and paid work with a sudden increase in child care responsibilities. To understand how parents might reallocate their time in the current situation (for which we do not yet have data), this column uses evidence from a 2012-2013 study of parents in Germany, and compares the time diaries of those whose youngest child had a place in day care to those whose youngest child remained at home."

Short-term work schemes : an analysis of practices implemented in Europe

According to the authors of this paper "a rapid implementation and a high utilisation of short-time work allowances have top priority in the current crisis. In the short term, these schemes focus on limiting the social costs of the crisis. Irrespective of the specific institutional arrangement, many countries have extended government support and simplified the requirements for receiving short-term allowances. However, simplifications also entail higher risks of free-riding and abuse. For example, short-term work compensation might sometimes be misused as liquidity support by companies charging for a higher loss of working hours than actually incurred. In order to keep the effects of abuse as low as possible, careful examination of each application should be monitored, even in the current situation."

This policy brief identifies some criteria for fair short-time work which enables workers not only to retain their job, but also to live a decent life.

According to the authors of this paper, the key criteria are:

  1. "Short-time work (STW) schemes should cover all sectors, companies and categories of workers;

  2. They should cover at least 80% of the original wage; the lowest amount paid should be at least a minimum wage at the level of the living wage;

  3. They should provide special protection for low-wage workers by providing them with a higher percentage of the original wage;

  4. The duration of wage support should extend beyond the duration of the state of emergency;

  5. STW schemes should contain a provision on protection against dismissal which extends beyond the duration of the STW support;

  6. Companies that pay out dividends or bonuses, buy back shares, or have subsidiaries registered in tax havens should not be eligible for STW support by the state;

  7. The regulation of the terms and conditions of STW arrangements should be based on an agreement between trade unions and employers to ensure their full involvement in the design and implementation of STW support."

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