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SOWELL Project

December 2, 2020

The SOWELL (Social dialogue in welfare services) project looks at the care services sector from an employment relations perspective, as a new arena for building solidarity and labour market coordination through social dialogue institutions in Europe.


July 2020 -  December 2022


DG EMPL “Improving expertise in the field of industrial relations”

Project Partners

Università degli Studi di Milano - University of Milan (Coordinator), IT
Universiteit van Amsterdam, NL
Universität Bremen, DE
Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, ES
European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU), EUR
Federation of European Social Employers, EUR
Central European Labour Studies Institute (CELSI), SK


The SOWELL project looks at the care services sector from an employment relations perspective. It focuses on working conditions and employment relations institutions in the sector on the one hand, and on trade unions and employer associations’ strategies on the other. The project focuses on two specific care services – early childhood education and care (ECEC) and long-term care (LTC) – selected for their relevance in terms of employment, and implementation of the EU social policy. The project activities will include

  1. Mapping of the characteristics and main transformations of the labour market in ECEC and LTC in different EU countries (in terms of providers, share of overall workforce employed, its composition, working conditions, employment relations etc.).
  2. Understanding of the role played by trade union and employer associations, at both local and national level, to promote and sustain social dialogue in this arena
  3. Explore the role of social dialogue at EU level: an increasing and fundamental part of the regulation in the care sector takes place at the EU level where the social partners are working to build a new sectoral social dialogue.

Expected results

  • Six national reports for Denmark, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, the Slovak Republic and Spain, composed of three sections:
    • 1st section: country-specific configuration of the labour market in the care services, the characteristics of the providers, the labour regulation in the selected care services and the working conditions.
    • 2nd section: description of the employment relations institutions and structure, the main collective agreements applied in the country, the main trade unions and employers’ associations, their structure, membership, role and strategies.
    • 3rd section: presentation of the case studies selected and the results of the local level analysis.
  • Three comparative reports will discuss the results of both the national level and of the case studies’ analysis from a comparative perspective, trying to draw general conclusions, to point out regularities, as well as differences across national experiences.
  • One European Level report will present the arena of care services at supranational level, focusing in particular on the development of the labour regulation, sectoral social dialogue, the role of the multinational companies and the role played by the European social partners in this policy field.
  • One Comparative Report will summarise the main findings of the overall project.

The Social Employers will work on this project in close cooperation with EPSU and the University of Milan. They will offer support in identifying and providing relevant information and documentation for the EU-level report and make use of their EU-wide network, identifying possible experts that could contribute to the research and disseminating the project findings.

For more information, please contact:
Alina Pavicevac
Project & Policy Officer
+32 2 233 7723

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