COVID-19 response

COVID-19 and the world of work: What are the responses of the ILO Office for Central and Eastern Europe?

Updated 7 April, 2020 The world of work is being affected by the global virus pandemic profoundly. In addition to the threat to public health, the economic and social disruption puts at risk the wellbeing of millions around the globe. The number of confirmed infections in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) is so far much smaller than in Western Europe. That said, there is no reason to assume that the economic and social effects of the lockdowns of the CEE countries, the disruption of international supply chains, and the massive return of labour migrants to the region will have less negative impact for employment and labour markets than elsewhere.


What has the office done so far in response to COVID-19?

The most urgent request from the CEE countries is to get country-specific assessments of the economic and social impact of the pandemic. In March 2020, the ILO Office for Central and Eastern Europe and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) created a regional Task Force comprising of ILO/EBRD experts and policy advisors from the Western Balkans. The first assignment of the task force will be
  • To assess what the likely impacts of the Covid-19 crisis are  on the labour markets over the short- and medium-term in each of the Western Balkan economies, and
  • To recommend policy responses that the Government and its social partners should consider in order to mitigate the short- and medium-term impact of the crisis.
In order to generate additional data on the impact of the crisis on enterprises, the office is assisting the Employers’ organisations in the region to run surveys among member companies. For the sake of sustaining the ILO’s offer on entrepreneurship training in Ukraine and Bosnia and Herzegovina during times of lockdown, the office is developing online courses and tutorials.

What is the service offer of the office for reducing the social and economic impact of the pandemic?

The menu of interventions developed to support countries in the region focuses on short-term measures that can be implemented through partners the office is already working with. Specific interventions are:

  • Country-specific job protection packages that include adaptations of measures such as short-time work; short-term unemployment allowance; income compensation for self-employed, seasonal workers, returned labour migrants
  • Advice on drafting labour legislation in order to cover unprotected, non-standard workers such as seasonal workers, temporary agency workers, self-employed, or digital platform workers
  • Support tri- and bi-partite negotiations on measures aiming at coping with the crisis
  • Provision of short term social protection measures such as widened eligibility for unemployment benefits, cash transfers for securing basic needs, fiscal impact analysis of the social protection measures
  • Prevention of domestic violence during extended periods of homeworking (awareness-raising campaigns, trainings)
  • Support to working parents with caring responsibilities (guidance on  flexible working time arrangements)
  • Assessment of the impact of the crisis on TVET delivery, provision of e-learning in TVET
  • Enabling safer workplaces in a time of COVID-19: Using labour inspectors and social partners to advice on preventing the virus transmission at the workplaces
A full list of possible interventions in response to COVID-19 is available upon request.