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Eurofound's EU PolicyWatch collates information on the responses of government and social partners to the COVID-19 crisis, the war in Ukraine, rising inflation, as well as gathering examples of company practices aimed at mitigating the social and economic impacts.

Factsheet for measure DE-2020-13/406 – measures in Germany

Chemical sector: Collective agreement for getting through the COVID-19 pandemic

Vereinbarung zur Bewältigung der Corona-Pandemie

Country Germany , applies nationwide
Time period Temporary, 27 March 2020 – 31 December 2020
Context COVID-19
Type Bipartite collective agreements
Category Employment protection and retention
– Income support for people in employment (e.g., short-time work)
Author Birgit Kraemer (Hans Boeckler Foundation) and Eurofound
Measure added 09 April 2020 (updated 22 July 2021)

Background information

To support companies to get through the crisis, the collective bargaining partners of the chemical and pharmaceutical sector on 27 March 2020 agreed on a fixed-term crisis agreement. It reduced the period for the announcement of short-time working, settles that annual extra days of leave can all be taken in one year rather over a number of years and that flexibility instruments can be developed at establishment level under the condition of the consent of the collective bargaining partners. Furthermore, a joint information desk is set up by the social partners.

Content of measure

Content of the new agreement

  1. Short time working can be announced three days in advance (reduction of announcement period).
  2. Under the given sectoral agreement 'Modern Worlds of Work', works agreements may provide the option that workers choose between extra allowances or extra days of leave (for 2020, 2021 and 2022). The new crisis agreement stipulates that all extra days of leave (for all three years) can be taken in 2020.
  3. Management and works councils may agree on mobile working.
  4. Management and works council may adapt given flexibility arrangements to the current crisis situation under the condition of a works agreement and that the works agreement is approved by collective bargaining partners at regional level.
  5. To answer open questions, the collective bargaining partners set up a joint information desk.

Use of measure

According to Federal Employment Agency data, the chemicals sector stood out by a rather low application of the short time working scheme. The application reached its peak in May 2020 (21.4% of all companies of chemical and pharmaceutical sector) and declined to 10.6% of all sectoral companies in August 2020 and stood at 3.5% in January. According to estimations by research institute IFO, the share of companies applying the scheme was 2.6% (source: IFO (2021)).


  • Employment retention
  • Leave arrangements
  • Other topics
  • Telework

Target groups

Workers Businesses Citizens
Does not apply to workers Sector specific set of companies
Does not apply to citizens

Actors and funding

Actors Funding
Social partners jointly
No special funding required

Social partners

Social partners' role in designing the measure and form of involvement:

Trade unions Employers' organisations
Role Agreed (outcome) incl. social partner initiative Agreed (outcome) incl. social partner initiative
Form Not applicable Not applicable

Social partners' role in the implementation, monitoring and assessment phase:

  • Social partners jointly
  • Main level of involvement: Sectoral or branch level


Agreement negotiated by the sectoral social partners in view of the beginning pandemic.

Views and reactions

Sectoral collective agreement covering the chemical sector in Germany.

Sectors and occupations

    • Economic area Sector (NACE level 2)
      C - Manufacturing C20 Manufacture of chemicals and chemical products

This case is not occupation-specific.


  • 27 March 2020: Gemeinsame Vereinbarung von IGBCE un d BAVC zur Corona Pandemie (


Eurofound (2020), Chemical sector: Collective agreement for getting through the COVID-19 pandemic, measure DE-2020-13/406 (measures in Germany), EU PolicyWatch, Dublin,


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Disclaimer: This information has not been subject to the full Eurofound evaluation, editorial and publication process.