Work Sharing during the Great Recession
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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.
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Chapter 3: European diversity of work sharing as a crisis measure: The experiences of Austria, Belgium, France and the Netherlands

New Developments and Beyond

Jörg Flecker and Annika Schönauer


The member states of the European Union introduced a range of measures directly or indirectly aimed at supporting the labour market during the Great Recession of 2008 and 2009. These instruments were intended to help avoiding mass dismissals and minimizing the firing and (re)hiring costs for businesses. One type of measure is intended to maintain employment: it has a preventive character that aims to keep people in employment by supporting companies or providing income support for workers who have accepted pay cuts to safeguard their jobs (Messenger 2009). Work sharing as a job-preservation tool falls into this category of measures, and it has to be distinguished from measures to create employment and measures which support individuals in case of redundancy. Work sharing as a policy to combat the consequences of the economic crisis, such as rising unemployment, has become very widespread in Europe and other industrialized countries in recent years and can be described as the most comprehensive and important measure for reducing working hours in Europe in the last decade.

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