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

19 May 2022


Working life in the COVID-19 pandemic 2021

This publication consists of individual country reports on working life during 2021 for 28 countries (the 27 EU Member States and Norway).


24 June 2020


COVID-19: Policy responses across Europe

This report aims to present an overview of both large-scale government measures and collective agreements that impact on large groups of workers.

16 June 2022


COVID-19 in the workplace: Employer's responsibility to ensure a safe workplace

Throughout 2021, the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, specific occupational health and safety rules were reintroduced due to increases in infection rates.


16 June 2022


Back to work after COVID-19: Testing, vaccines and green certificates

In the second pandemic year 2021, access to one's place of work was increasingly dependent on providing proof of either having been tested, vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19 in several countries.

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