Coronavirus (Covid-19)

The COVID-19 pandemic hitting the world in 2020 poses an unprecedented, major challenge to economies and societies around the world. It is severely impacting the private employment services sector which is working hard to weather the crisis and stand ready to accompany recovery. The primary concern of the World Employment Confederation and its members is to protect the health and safety of workers.

The outbreak of the coronavirus (Covid-19) has crippled national economies around the world. The overlapping supply and demand shocks resulting from the various measures adopted by governments to cope with the pandemic impacted the labour market significantly. Record job losses and reduction in GDP growth are recorded, and other indicators like international job mobility and income inequality are also worsening.

For all the latest information on the spread and impact of Covid-19, consult our list of useful links and resources. 

As the world is moving from immediate response and resilience measures to the various stages of recovery, it is essential that the private employment services sector remains able to offer its labour market expertise. Especially temporary agency work will be among the first sectors to bring workers back into quality employment, using its experience in managing labour market fluctuations. This contribution can facilitate the pathway back to work and ensure an inclusive economic and social recovery.

The World Employment Confederation is in dialogue with global and European policymakers to ensure that the appropriate regulatory framework is put in place to develop a quick and safe road to recovery and to allow the private employment services sector to fully play its role. Three areas of focus and a set of priorities have been identified by the World Employment Confederation’s members:

  1. Operationalising the return to work, creating conditions for safe workplaces and enabling digital solutions to sustain flexibility in matching, skilling and working.
  2. A framework for activation and transition, with labour regulations allowing private employment services to fully play their role in providing employment opportunities, career advice and business support.
  3. Speed up Social Innovation to ensure access to minimum levels of social protection for all workers, irrespective of how they engage with work.


For more information about how the private employment services sector will support society, workers and business on the road to recovery, check WEC’s policy paper. For specific recommendations targeted to the European context, read WEC-Europe’s position paper.





At European level, the World Employment Confederation-Europe adopted a series of joint recommendations with UNI-Europa, the trade union representing agency workers, to both mitigate the immediate impact of the crisis and prepare for the recovery of the labour market and the economy.

The private employment services sector is a strong barometer of the cycles and well-being of economies. Its core service, agency work, has been particularly hit by the Covid-19 crisis. Firstly, because the level of activity of agency work is directly connected to the evolution of GDP (which has faced a strong decrease due to the much needed containment measures adopted by governments around the world). Secondly, because agency work is a highly intensive labour service, employing millions of workers across the globe. In some countries, the Covid-19 crisis has cut down the number of agency workers by 50% to 70%.

To get an overview of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the agency work markets across the world, have a look at WEC’s analysis. WEC members can access more detailed data as well as assessments / forecasts from international organisations via the Members Area. Other resources, such as an inventory of industry-specific policy issues and developments related to Covid-19 are also available for Members-only.

As soon as the outbreak of the Covid-19 began, members of the World Employment Confederations have put initiatives in place to protect workers’ health and jobs:

  1. Protect the health and safety of all workers, ensuring appropriate information and enabling remote work, wherever possible;
  2. Ensure the immediate relief for all workers and businesses in need;
  3. Re-allocate agency workers across the economy to save jobs and meet urgent demands from essential sectors.

These actions have been shaped in close collaboration with governments, trade unions and the business community to respect and leverage each party’s unique contribution to containing and combatting Covid-19.

Follow our social media accounts (WEC Global & WEC Europe) where we regularly share concrete examples from our National Federations and Corporate Members. 

The World Employment Confederation has set up dedicated task force to tap into its members’ expertise to share the best practices, reflect on the lessons learned and develop practical solutions to implement in collaboration with all stakeholders interested in building a sustainable and inclusive post-Covid 19 world of work.

Get insights from this ‘big conversation’ through our blog posts “Notes on the New Normal” and our monthly podcast “World Views on the World of Work”.

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