Job retention schemes during COVID-19: A review of policy responses

This report provides an update on job retention policies in a sample of 20 countries representing the main world regions as well as the diverse types of job retention schemes, in particular short-time work, furlough and wage subsidy schemes as they have been implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The aim of this policy brief is to analyze job retention schemes, in particular short-time work or furlough polices and equivalent wage subsidy programs implemented during the global COVID-19 crisis with a particular focus on adjustments as the crisis has evolved further up to the beginning of 2022. It shows main trends in policy design and differences in terms of expenditure on the schemes and the number of workers involved to the extent that such data is available. The main focus, however, lies on a qualitative analysis of core features of job retention schemes in a sample of diverse countries.

In order to understand job retention implemented in the COVID-19 crisis, we first have a look at the general design and assessment of short-time work and similar instruments based on existing knowledge from earlier recession. We then provide a comparative overview of the different schemes implemented in the context of COVID-19, considering their design and evolution during the crisis. The third section discusses four selected country experiences in more detail. The paper concludes by assessing the schemes and their impact as well as by giving an outlook on future implementation and design.