Impact of the COVID-19 crisis on wages and wage setting

The COVID-19 crisis had a significant impact on wages and wage setting across Europe in 2020. The uncertain economic scenario, together with the difficulties inherent in online bargaining, led to a general postponement of collective agreements to 2021, especially at company level. Real wages maintained a positive trend during 2020 in most EU countries, with just modest increases, while higher increases were observed in the public sector. Wage support mechanisms introduced by governments also contributed to supporting wages in the private sector for workers whose hours have been reduced or who have been temporarily laid off. The crisis seems to have particularly affected low-wage workers, occupations, and sectors. It is likely that wage support mechanisms and minimum wages have played a key role in reducing the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on growing earning inequalities.

This article is one of a series that explores working life issues in the 27 EU Member States, Norway and the UK during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is based on information provided by the Network of Eurofound Correspondents and published as a set of individual country reports in ‘Working life in the COVID-19 pandemic 2020’.

Go to top