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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 EU-2020-46/1578 – measures in European Union

Working in tandem with robots - Joint social partner position

Country European Union , applies eu-wide (or beyond)
Time period Open ended, started on 09 November 2020
Context COVID-19, Digital Transformation
Type Non-binding recommendations or other texts
Category Protection of workers, adaptation of workplace
– Changes in work organisation
Author Barbara Surdykowska and Eurofound
Measure added 09 December 2020 (updated 13 December 2020)

Background information

IndustriALL European Trade Union and the Council of European Employers of the Metal Engineering and Technology based Industries (CEEMET) issued a joint position concerning the impact of digitalisation on the world of work in the metal industries (MET). Since they recognised that the COVID-19 pandemic is a tipping point for technology dissemination and the digital transformation of MET industries and workplaces.

Particular attention was paid to the future collaboration of humans and robots in the post-COVID metal industry. Cobots (what means working in tandem with robots) have become a safe option for cooperating with workers. They are one of the major advances of recent years and contribute to a sustainable working life for employees of the MET sector.

  • The CEEMET is the European employers’ organisation representing the interests of the metal, engineering and technology-based industries. Through its national member organisations it represents 200,000 companies across Europe.
  • IndustriALL European Trade Union represents 7 million workers across supply chains in manufacturing, mining and energy sectors across Europe.

Content of measure

IndustriAll Europe and Ceemet have expressed their firm belief that the search for tailor-made solutions will become increasingly important as digital transformation occurs at different pace in different regions and enterprises and in the context of rapidly changing technological parameters. The social partners identified four areas where social dialogue can shape ongoing technological change for the benefit of both employers and employees.

  • OrganiSation of work - social partners emphasise that during the blockade due to the COVID-19 crisis, teleworking turned out to be a key tool for health and safety protection and ensuring business and work continuity.
  • Skills - In the area of the impact of digitisation on skills, according to the social partners, it is imperative to avoid a skills shortage and a massive loss of strategic know-how that could occur in a rapid digital and green economy transition, combined with large-scale restructuring plans related to COVID-19 if not managed in a strategic and socially responsible manner, and despite measures taken in many countries to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Occupational health and safety - sensors in exoskeletons can assist workers in certain activities, such as lifting, and thus be beneficial to their health. Digital workplaces using intelligent sensors can measure noise levels in real time and set parameters to ensure compliance with health and safety standards. Nevertheless, these technologies must be used in conjunction with traditional OSH tools, such as risk assessments, to ensure worker safety.
  • Data protection - the challenge will be to find the right balance between protecting both the respective worker’s personal data and the industries’ international competitiveness. Involving social partners is of key importance as they are closer to the needs of their members and in a position to regularly report on the swift evolution of digitalisation in the world of work.

Use of measure

Not yet available.

Target groups

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

Actors and funding

Actors Funding
EU level social partners
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 Direct consultation outside a formal body Direct consultation outside a formal body

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

  • Social partners jointly
  • Main level of involvement: EU level


Joint initiative of social partners.

Views and reactions

The view of social partners is positive since it's their own initiative.

Sectors and occupations

    • Economic area Sector (NACE level 2)
      C - Manufacturing C24 Manufacture of basic metals
      C25 Manufacture of fabricated metal products, except machinery and equipment
    • Occupation (ISCO level 2)
      Metal, machinery and related trades workers



Eurofound (2020), Working in tandem with robots - Joint social partner position, measure EU-2020-46/1578 (measures in European Union), EU PolicyWatch, Dublin,


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