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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 HU-2020-10/1531 – measures in Hungary

LIRA books and publishing group COVID-19 experience

A LIRA csoport koronavírus járvánnyal kapcsolatos tapasztalata

Country Hungary , applies nationwide
Time period Open ended, started on 01 March 2020
Type Company practices
Category Supporting businesses to stay afloat
– Other
Author Nóra Krokovay (KOPINT-Tárki) and Eurofound
Case created 01 December 2020 (updated 27 January 2021)

Background information

The book wholesaler, retailer and publishing group LIRA has 450-500 employees so it is a medium-sized company which is impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic through its retail bookstore chain. The company’s coping practices are a good example for this type and size of a firm in Hungary. In March 2020 all the 92 bookstores of the LIRA group nation-wide closed to customers. The closure was not mandated by legislation but by a lack of customers due to rules that no customer can be inside a shopping facility (which is an indirect closure order).

Content of measure

When stores closed in March, the company group shifted its activities to its wholesale and online businesses. They did the following:

  • Regrouped employees and offered some re-training for online sales positions.
  • Designed a 2-shift work arrangement ready to be introduced in case of employee absences due to COVID-19 infections. (In the end, the 2-shift work system did not have to be introduced as there were no mass infections.)
  • Brought IT developments forward to improve online presence and sales.
  • Took advantage of the government’ short-time work scheme (known as Kurzarbeit) for 400 employees
  • Cut salaries by 15-20% for staff in March, April when Kurzarbeit support was not available yet, and mainly for managers with higher pay.
  • Allowed remote work as an option by request from employees.
  • Organised trainings for store managers and publishing staff
  • Reduced publishing activity by about 50 titles (from annual average of 720)

Use of measure

The company managed to stay afloat without any layoffs. In March-June store sales fell back by about 20% but this was offset by online sales, which doubled. Stores reopened in July and things were back to normal until the end of September. In October-November turnover was back to normal.

Contents

  • Basic working time
  • Employment retention
  • Pay freezes or cuts
  • Telework
  • Training and employability
  • Work organisation

Target groups

Workers Businesses Citizens
Employees in standard employment
SMEs
Does not apply to citizens

Actors and funding

Actors Funding
Company / Companies
No special funding required

Social partners

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

Trade unions Employers' organisations
Role No involvement No involvement
Form Not applicable Not applicable

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

  • No involvement
  • Main level of involvement: Company level

Involvement

No involvement

Views and reactions

No reactions

Sectors and occupations

    • Economic area Sector (NACE level 2)
      G - Wholesale And Retail Trade; Repair Of Motor Vehicles And Motorcycles G47 Retail trade, except of motor vehicles and motorcycles
      J - Information And Communication J58 Publishing activities

This case is not occupation-specific.

Sources

  • 18 March 2020: Government decree 47/2020 (EN)
  • 10 April 2020: Government decree 105/2020.

Citation

Eurofound (2020), LIRA books and publishing group COVID-19 experience, case HU-2020-10/1531 (measures in Hungary), COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch, Dublin, http://eurofound.link/covid19eupolicywatch

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