Short-time working

Short-time working or short time is state-regulated system of in which civilian employees agree to or are forced to accept a reduction in working time and pay. The term can refer to short-term, recession-related programs operating in several European countries in which companies have entered into an agreement to avoid laying off any of their employees by instead reducing the working hours of all or most of their employees, with the government making up some of the employees' lost income. Employees who undergo training programs during their extra time off can often maintain their former incomes.


In Austria, the introduction of short time requires a special arrangement between what are called the "social partners" of Austrian collective bargaining, who negotiate on behalf of the employer and affected staff the scope of the Kurzarbeit arrangement in terms of the staff covered, the maximum period of its application, the conditions for any lay-offs during the arrangement, and the scope of any professional training or re-training courses included.


In 2009, the German government had budgeted 5.1 billion euros on the program, which replaced some of the lost income of over 1.4 million workers. The program was favorably cited in a 2009 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development report, which stated that it had saved nearly 500,000 jobs during the recession. Besides helping to avoid mass layoffs, proponents of the program also cite its keeping skilled work groups together and avoiding the atrophy of their skills during extended layoffs, while critics have expressed concerns about its expense and that it might prop up non-viable firms.


Due to the economic difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Romanian government is considering adopting a measure based on the German model of Kurzarbeit.