Work Sharing during the Great Recession

Work Sharing during the Great Recession

New Developments and Beyond

Edited by Jon C. Messenger and Naj Ghosheh

‘Work sharing’ is a labour market instrument devised to distribute a reduced volume of work to the same (or similar) number of workers over a diminished period of working time in order to avoid redundancies. This fascinating and timely study presents the concept and history of work sharing and explores the complexities and trade-offs involved in its use as both a strategy for preserving jobs and a policy for increasing employment.

Chapter 2: Work sharing as an alternative to layoffs: Lessons from the German experience during the crisis

Lutz Bellmann, Andreas Crimmann, Hans-Dieter Gerner and Frank Wießner

Subjects: economics and finance, labour economics, public sector economics, social policy and sociology, labour policy


In the second half of 2008, the global economy was hit by a massive shock originating from a deep financial crisis. Like many other countries around the globe, Germany searched for remedies and interventions, especially to ease the strain on the labour market. Unlike many other countries, however, Germany was reasonably considered a success. This chapter reviews the roots and causes of this positive result, and it mainly sheds light on Kurzarbeit, the German work-sharing scheme, which was a central policy in saving jobs. Current economic developments are still somewhat uncertain, difficult to predict and even harder to direct. There are even indications of a global debt crisis, bringing with it the danger of a renewed and perhaps long-lasting worldwide recession. For the time being it is difficult to judge whether the crisis came to an end in 2009, whether it will remain ongoing or whether we are facing a new crisis. Or maybe the financial crisis has temporarily submerged, and is just transforming into an economic one again. In any case, the situation remains uncertain.

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