Work Sharing during the Great Recession: New developments and beyond

This volume presents the concept and history of work sharing, how it can be used as a strategy for preserving jobs and also its potential for increasing employment − including the complexities and trade-offs involved. Work-sharing programmes used during the Great Recession of 2008−09 are analysed for several European countries and other countries around the world.


Work sharing is a labour market instrument based on the reduction of working time, which is intended to spread a reduced volume of work over the same (or similar) number of workers in order to avoid layoffs. In times of economic crisis, work sharing can also permit businesses to retain their skilled workforces, thus minimizing firing and (re)hiring costs, preserving functioning plants and bolstering staff morale during difficult times. If work-sharing policies are properly designed and implemented, the result can be a “win-win-win” solution for workers, businesses and governments.

This volume presents the concept and history of work sharing, how it can be used as a strategy for preserving jobs and also its potential for increasing employment − including the complexities and trade-offs involved. Work-sharing programmes used during the Great Recession of 2008−09 are analysed for several European countries (Germany’s Kurzarbeit, and measures in Austria, Belgium, France and the Netherlands) and other countries around the world (Japan, Turkey, the United States and Uruguay). The volume synthesizes the lessons learned from these recent experiences and their implications for policy, and also considers how work sharing might go beyond being solely a crisis response tool to contribute to improved individual well-being, more sustainable economies, and ultimately, more equitable societies.