European Foundation
for the Improvement of
Living and Working Conditions

The tripartite EU agency providing knowledge to assist
in the development of better social, employment and
work-related policies

EU PolicyWatch

Database of national-level policy measures

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-2020-14/1141 – 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
Context COVID-19
Type Company practices
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 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 Agreed (outcome) incl. social partner initiative 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, measure DE-2020-14/1141 (measures in Germany), EU PolicyWatch, Dublin,


Eurofound publications based on EU PolicyWatch

30 January 2023


Measures to lessen the impact of the inflation and energy crisis on citizens

Governments across the EU continue to implement policies to support citizens and businesses in the face of rising food and energy prices caused by the COVID-19 crisis and intensified by the war in Ukraine. As winter approaches, preventing and addressing energy poverty becomes a priority. This article summarises the policy responses as reported in Eurofound’s EU PolicyWatch database from January to September 2022.


12 September 2022


First responses to cushion the impact of inflation on citizens

Although the worldwide pandemic situation had already disrupted supply chains and triggered increases in energy and food prices in 2021, the situation deteriorated in 2022 with the Russian invasion of Ukraine.


12 September 2022


Policies to support EU companies affected by the war in Ukraine

This article summarises the first policy responses that governments across the EU have started to implement to support companies affected by the rising prices, and those with commercial ties to Ukraine, Russia or Belarus.

5 July 2022


Policies to support refugees from Ukraine

This article summarises the first policy responses of EU Member States, including those of the social partners and other civil society actors, enabling refugees to exercise their rights under the Temporary Protection Directive.


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