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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-2021-50/2097 – measures in European Union

Social partners expect European Care Strategy to address workforce needs

Country European Union , applies eu-wide (or beyond)
Time period Open ended, started on 08 December 2021
Context COVID-19
Type Other initiatives or policies
Category Ensuring business continuity and support for essential services
– Remuneration and rewards for workers in essential services
Author Barbara Surdykowska and Eurofound
Measure added 20 December 2021 (updated 21 January 2022)

Background information

The care sector is becoming an increasingly key sector due to the demographic changes that are taking place in today's society. In her State of the European Union address of 2021, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced a new European Care Strategy, targeting both carers and audiences, from childcare to long-term care. Taking into account the experience of COVID-19, the European Federation of Public Service Unions, EPSU and the Federation of European Social Employers presented a joint position on the development of this sector.

  • The EPSU brings together trade unions from across Europe and represents over 8 million public service workers. It is the most representative European trade union organisation in the social services sector.
  • The Federation of European Social Employers is the voice of employers in the field of social services at European level and has the most significant employer’s representativeness in the private sector part of social services.

Content of measure

In the view of social partners, throughout the pandemic, care workers experienced understaffing, work intensification and dangerous working conditions. A lack of adequate protection led to a much higher rate of COVID-19 infection among the long-term care workforce compared with the general workforce. The resilience of long-term care has been severely affected by exhaustion and moral injury, therefore a strong European Care Strategy must address these issues by taking into consideration:

  • An integrated approach to care - health care and social care, informal and formal care, residential and home & community-based care.
  • Quality working conditions, appropriate salaries, training and career paths and healthy / safe workplaces, in order to recruit and retain employees and to stimulate career interests for social services.
  • Funding for social services as an investment in the future, not as a mere cost.
  • Measures to ensure adequate, safe staffing levels.
  • The need to improve the public’s image of care work and its value to society.
  • Investment in and use of technological and social innovations.
  • The importance of developing social dialogue and supporting collective bargaining.

Use of measure

Not applicable.

Target groups

Workers Businesses Citizens
Workers in care facilities
Sector specific set of companies
Does not apply to citizens

Actors and funding

Actors Funding
EU level social partners

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


Sectoral social partners have taken the initiative of joint statement on their own in anticipation of the new European Care Strategy for 2022.

Views and reactions

Social partners' views are supportive for their own initiative.

Sectors and occupations

    • Economic area Sector (NACE level 2)
      Q - Human Health And Social Work Activities Q87 Residential care activities
    • Occupation (ISCO level 2)
      Personal care workers


  • 14 December 2021: The Social Employers and EPSU release a joint Position Paper on the forthcoming European Care Strategy (


Eurofound (2021), Social partners expect European Care Strategy to address workforce needs, measure EU-2021-50/2097 (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.