European Working Conditions Surveys (EWCS)

Since its launch in 1990 the European Working Conditions Survey has provided an overview of working conditions in Europe in order to:

  • Assess and quantify working conditions of both employees and the self employed across Europe on a harmonised basis
  • Analyse relationships between different aspects of working conditions
  • Identify groups at risk and issues of concern as well as of progress
  • Monitor trends by providing homogeneous indicators on these issues
  • Contribute to European policy development in particular on quality of work and employment issues.

The scope of the survey questionnaire has widened substantially since the first edition, aiming to provide a comprehensive picture of the everyday reality of men and women at work. Gender mainstreaming has been an important concern for recent reviews of the questionnaire.

Themes covered today include employment status, working time duration and organisation, work organisation, learning and training, physical and psychosocial risk factors, health and safety, work-life balance, worker participation, earnings and financial security, as well as work and health.

In each wave a random sample of workers (employees and self-employed) has been interviewed face to face. Following the European enlargements and interest from the EFTA countries the geographical coverage of the survey has expanded:

  • First EWCS in 1990/1991: workers in the EC12 were surveyed
  • Second EWCS in 1995/1996: workers in the EU15 were surveyed
  • Third EWCS in 2000: the EU15 and Norway were surveyed in a first phase, with the survey being extended to cover the 12 'new' Member States in 2001, and Turkey in 2002 in a second phase
  • Fourth EWCS in 2005: EU27, plus Norway, Croatia, Turkey and Switzerland
  • Fifth EWCS in 2010: workers were surveyed in the EU27, Norway, Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, Albania, Montenegro and Kosovo.