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CfP 'Comparative Impacts of the COVID-19 Crisis on Work and Employment' IR: A Journal of Economy and Society

Comparative Impacts of the COVID-19 Crisis on Work and Employment

Call for Papers for Special Issue

Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society

Guest Editors

Tony Dobbins, University of Birmingham, UK

Stewart Johnstone, University of Strathclyde, UK

Marta Kahancová, Central European Labour Studies Institute, Slovakia

Ryan Lamare, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA

Adrian Wilkinson, Griffith University, Australia, Visiting Professor, University of Sheffield, UK

COVID-19 is a global public health and socioeconomic crisis (Dobbins, 2020). As such, it is distinct from economic crises like the Great Depression or the 2008 global financial crisis (Johnstone et al., 2019), not least of which is because work had to be primarily reduced or reallocated, not expanded (Barrero, Bloom, and Davis, 2020). Notable exceptions are among those workers able to work from home, and essential front-line workers in health, food production and retail who continue to expose themselves to the virus (Koebel and Pohler, 2020) to keep society functioning by supporting human life (Winton and Howcroft, 2020).

The crisis has had devastating effects on the world of work, globally. Many countries experienced massive shocks to employment, rising unemployment, and decreased labor force participation (Eurofound, 2020; ILO, 2020). However, effects of the crisis have been unevenly distributed across societies, and likely vary according to country institutions, cultures, politics, demographics, and other characteristics (Adolph et al., 2020; Hale et al., 2020; Mora and Schickler, 2020). For example, Adams-Prassl et al., (2020) outline survey data from the UK, US and Germany revealing that the labor market impacts of COVID-19 differ considerably across these countries. Employees in Germany, with its Kurzarbeit short-time work scheme, were less likely to lose their jobs due to the crisis; at least in the short-run. Within countries, impacts vary by sector, and accentuate existing racial, gender, and class inequalities. Workers in alternative work arrangements and in jobs not conducive to working from home are more likely to experience cuts in working hours and income, or redundancy. Early analyses suggest less educated workers and women (Adams-Prassl et al., 2020) as well as low-income workers (Koebel and Pohler, 2020) are most affected by the crisis.

Looking to the future, COVID-19 could lead to widespread restructuring of the way work is performed. The crisis may accelerate the use of technologies in industries and occupations that were not previously impacted by digitalization. The crisis could also facilitate emergence of new jobs because of growing demand for particular services and/or new approaches to organization of the economy. 2


The purpose of this Special Issue is to focus attention on the work- and employment-related implications of the COVID-19 crisis. We have a preference for papers that adopt a comparative lens by exploring the heterogeneous impacts of the crisis and responses to the crisis across different countries, sectors, organizations, employers and workers. We invite papers that make novel theoretical and/or empirical contributions that help us understand the current crisis and papers that develop insights to help navigate future crises and the future of work and employment post-crisis.

Some questions that may be explored in this special include, but are not limited to:

What are the implications and impact of the crisis on the world of work from the perspective of different groups of workers?

What have been the implications of the crisis on key aspects of the employment relationship, such pay and working conditions, workforce reduction, employee voice, health and safety, and labor-management relations?

How did employers restructure and reorganise employment practices during the evolving crisis, and which of these practices are likely to remain post-crisis?

How have trade unions and employee representatives responded to changing employment practices? What has been the involvement of trade unions and employee representatives in the design of policy measures to mitigate the effects of the pandemic on workers? How do their responses differ across countries with different industrial relations systems and welfare states?

How and why have employer responses to the crisis varied in relation to economic, political, social, cultural, and other contextual issues?

How have government, employer and worker responses to the work and employment-related impacts of the crisis compared with previous economic downturns?

How have the effects of the crisis and government policy responses varied internationally, reflecting different labor market and employment relations institutions? Are there differences, for example, between co-ordinated market economies and liberal market economies, or countries severely/mildly impacted by the pandemic?

Which employment relations theories and frameworks can best help us explain and understand the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on work and employment?

What are the implications for the future of work and employment, especially for workers?

What are the possibilities for a new politics, and related, labor and social policies, that can improve workers’ lives?


Submission Process

Interested contributors will first submit a long abstract (max. 1,000 words). The abstract should clearly outline the research question or purpose of the proposed paper, as well as how the paper contributes to our understanding of the impacts of COVID-19 on work and employment. The abstract should also include a brief description of the empirical analysis used and/or an illustration of the theoretical/conceptual model to be developed. Questions or any other communication about the purpose and process of the special issue should be directed to any of the guest editors via email. However, we will not provide editorial 3


assistance for long abstracts. The long abstracts should be sent via email to Dr. Ryan Lamare ( by August 31, 2020.

Guest editors will then choose a subset of abstracts and invite full papers from authors. The deadline for submission of full papers will be December 31, 2020, via Manuscript Central. All invited papers submitted by this date will undergo double-blind review by two reviewers. Note that there is no guarantee that invited papers will be accepted for publication. Based on the blind reviews and extent to which the papers meet the aims and scope of the special issue, a subset of invited papers will be selected for the special issue. Because publication of the special issue is scheduled for the second half of 2021, only papers that can be accepted with minor revisions will be considered.


Adams-Prassl, A., Boneva, T., Golin, M. and Rauh, C. (2020). Inequality in the Impact of the Coronavirus Shock: Evidence from Real Time Surveys. Cambridge-INET Working Papers, No 18.

Adolph, C., Amano, K., Bang-Jensen, B., Fullman, N., & Wilkerson, J. (2020). Pandemic politics: Timing state-level social distancing responses to COVID-19. medRxiv Working Paper.

Barrero, J., Bloom, N., & Davis, S.J. (2020) COVID-19 is also a reallocation shock. NBER Working Paper #27137.

Dobbins, T. (2020). COVID-19 and the Past, Present and Future of Work. Futures of Work, Issue 13, 5th May. Bristol: Bristol University Press.

Eurofound (2020). COVID-19. Dublin: European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions.

Hale, T., Angrist, N., Kira, B., Petherick, A., Phillips, T., & Webster, S. (2020) Variation in government responses to COVID-19. Oxford: BGS Working Paper Series.

ILO (2020). ILO Monitor 2nd edition: COVID-19 and the world of work. April 7. Geneva: ILO.

Johnstone, S., Saridakis, G., & Wilkinson, A. (2019). The Global Financial Crisis, Work and Employment: Ten Years On. Economic and Industrial Democracy, 40(3), 455–468.

Koebel, K., and Pohler, D. (2020). Labor markets in crisis: The causal impact of Canada’s COVID-19 economic shutdown on hours worked for workers across the earnings distribution. Canadian Labour Economics Forum Working Papers Series, No. 25 (Spring/Summer).

Mora, C.G., & Schickler, E. (2020) Racial minorities more at risk in the workplace and the economy. Berkeley IGS Release #2020-06.

Winton, A. and Howcroft, D. (2020. What COVID-19 tells us about the value of human labour. Manchester Policy Blogs, April 7th. University of Manchester.


13th July 2020