COVID-19 response

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

In Central and Eastern Europe, countries managed the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic through rigorous lockdowns that helped to keep the number of infections low. However, in the past two months, there has been a resurgence of infections in many countries in the region. ILO global estimates show that the crisis is causing an unprecedented reduction in economic activity and working time. The ILO estimates for Q2 (2020) indicate that the Western Balkans will lose 11.6 per cent of hours worked. This is equivalent to 810,000 employment losses in terms of full time posts.


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What has the office done so far?

The ILO and partners completed rapid assessments in North Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia, and assessments are forthcoming for Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo* and Ukraine. The reports describe impacts of the Covid-19 crisis on the labour markets, and recommend policy responses that the Government and its social partners should consider in order to mitigate the short- and medium-term impacts of the crisis.

In order to generate additional data on the impact of the crisis on enterprises, the office is assisting Employer’s organisations in the Western Balkans, Moldova and Ukraine to run a survey among member companies that examine how companies have been affected.  Reports are already available on Albania, Republica Srpska in Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Ukraine

Among other interventions, the ILO recently signed a project agreement with the Department for International Development of Great Britain aimed to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 in Montenegro. 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 conducting online courses and tutorials. In Moldova, the ILO trained 90 small- and medium enterprises (SMEs) on business continuity. In Ukraine, 1500 labour inspectors received ILO training on enabling safer workplaces. 

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.