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in the development of better social, employment and
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COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch

Database of national-level responses

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

Factsheet for case DE-2020-14/1141 – measures in Germany

Short-time work at Thyssenkrupp Steel

Kurzarbeit bei Thyssenkrupp Steel

Country Germany , applies locally

Time period Open ended, started on 01 April 2020
Type Company practices
Category Measures to prevent social hardship
– Other
Author Birgit Kraemer (Hans Boeckler Foundation) and Eurofound
Case created 15 September 2020 (updated 22 January 2021)

Background information

The political measures introduced to limit the spread of COVID-19, including lock downs, social distancing, stricter hygiene standards, and restrictions in global travel and transport, pose particular challenges to companies in automotive supply chains. ThyssenKrupp Steel faced reduced demand from Germany's automotive sector, adding to existing pressures for restructuring. The company together with the works council had to use the German short-time work scheme and ensure social distancing at work while preventing social hard ship for employees.

Content of measure

Management agreed in negotiations with the works council to top-up short-time work salaries, initially reaching 80% of former wage levels, and later 89%. To ensure social distancing, the company also introduced a new shift schedule with differential starting times that allowed workers to avoid contact with others. Negotiating the agreement with management was particularly difficult for the company works council because social distancing rules prohibited employee meetings in a normal (off-line) setting. A works council member interviewed in Summer lamented an erosion of solidarity among employees as a result of social distancing (Magazin Mitbestimmung 06/2020, Hans-Böckler-Foundation). The agreement not only applies during the current pandemic but also covers future pandemic situations.

Use of measure

No data. (The research team at WSI will try to update this case in January 2021).


  • Pay freezes or cuts
  • Working time flexibility

Target groups

Workers Businesses Citizens
Employees in standard employment
Applies to all businesses Does not apply to citizens

Actors and funding

Actors Funding
Company / Companies
National funds

Social partners

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

Trade unions Employers' organisations
Role Negotiated No involvement
Form Direct consultation outside a formal body Not applicable

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

  • No involvement
  • Main level of involvement: Company level


  1. The local works council and management reached an agreement.
  2. External organisations from the employer or workers' side were not involved.
  3. No contribution from social partners outside of the workplace concerned.

Views and reactions

No data.

Sectors and occupations

    • Economic area Sector (NACE level 2)
      C - Manufacturing C24 Manufacture of basic metals

This case is not occupation-specific.



Eurofound (2020), Short-time work at Thyssenkrupp Steel, case DE-2020-14/1141 (measures in Germany), COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch, Dublin,

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