Relaunching Collective Bargaining Coverage in Outsourced Services – RECOVER

Collective bargaining coverage is an important element of industrial relations systems as it determines the capacity of collective agreements to protect workers. Moreover, it has also been identified as a key institution reducing earnings disparities and limiting labour market dualisation. Ensuring high coverage is accordingly key to guarantee an inclusive and socially sustainable recovery. Studies on collective bargaining coverage have revealed the existence of significant differences in coverage levels across countries due to different collective bargaining structures, the existence of extension mechanisms, membership of unions and employer organizations etc. Moreover, declining collective bargaining coverage has also been reported due to lower union density, de-centralization and erosion of extension mechanisms.
The research question addressed by the RECOVER project is to what extent the growth in outsourcing is triggering coverage problems for workers in these outsourced services. The aim of the project is
accordingly to analyse collective bargaining coverage in outsourced services with a view to: identify coverage problems related to outsourcing practices; study the capacity of existing institutions in dealing with them; analyze the incidence of coverage gaps across different groups of workers; analyse the strategies deployed by social partners in order to address these problems and provide actors with some policy guidance in order to ensure inclusive and effective coverage.
The project will compare cases of collective bargaining coverage gaps in outsourced services at sectoral and company level in six countries. Coverage gaps in relation to collective bargaining are defined as those
situations when workers in outsourced services in one sector or company are not covered by the collective agreement that applies to the rest of workers performing similar tasks, or are applied a different collective agreement establishing lower standards.

The RECOVER project has the following specific objectives:
1.- To provide new insights and evidence on collective bargaining coverage gaps adopting a multi-level perspective, i.e., focusing on the interaction between the supranational regulatory context on outsourcing, national institutions, the meso or sectoral level and the micro or company level of analysis.
2.- To analyse the sources of these gaps, and in particular, the role of outsourcing practices across different sectors and countries.
3.- To map collective bargaining coverage gaps in relation to outsourcing practices across sectors and countries. The project will focus on different realities / manifestations of outsourcing. These include workers in facility management companies, TAW, bogus self-employed workers and free lancers. All of them reflect the multi-faceted character of outsourcing, leading to the growth in groups of workers under very different legal status and very often left at the margins of existing collective arrangements at company or sector level.
4.- To analyze the collective bargaining position of facility management companies and their workers in the context of national and sectoral collective bargaining frameworks
5.- To highlight the benefits of collective bargaining coverage and equal treatment of workers in outsourced services
7.- To provide evidence on the role of social partners at national, sectoral and company level in filling these gaps and making effective the extension of collective agreements to workers in outsourced services.
8.- To share best practices among social partners of different countries on how to ensure effective collective bargaining protection
9.- To collect data and relevant findings in order to shed new light into the characteristics and evolution of collective bargaining coverage mechanisms and practices.
10. To disseminate and discuss the findings and lessons with social partners from the countries involved, and across the whole EU to promote transnational learning.

Start date: 01/01/2017

Finish date: 31/12/2018

Financing: European Commission – DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion (Agreement number VS/2016/0351)

Financing reference: Agreement number VS/2016/0351 – EA6144400

Responsable researcher: Oscar Molina

Team: Alejandro Godino, Antonio Martín-Artiles, Joan Rodríguez-Soler




Godino, A. &  Molina, O. (2022), The industrial relations chameleon: collective bargaining in the facility management business, Employee Relations, Vol. 44 No. 7, pp. 1-18.

RECOVER Policy Paper:

Brandl, Bernd; Kildunne, Anne (2018): Outsourcing and Collective Bargaining in the UK . RECOVER Policy Paper. 

Czarzasty, Jan; Owczarek, Dominik (2018): Cheap is cheap, no matter what they say. Collective bargaining and working conditions in outsourced services in Poland . RECOVER Policy Paper.

Godino, Alejandro; Molina, Oscar (2018): Who overcomes collective bargaining? Outsourcing practices and regulation in Spain. RECOVER Policy Paper.

Pedaci, Marcello; Braga, Adolfo; Guarascio, Carmela (2018): Outsourcing of services and collective bargaining coverage in Italy. RECOVER Policy Paper.

Rodríguez-Soler, Joan (2018): Outsourcing dynamics and regulatory framework in France. RECOVER Policy Paper.


Brandl, Bernd; Kildunne, Anne (2018): Outsourcing and Collective Bargaining in the UK. Country Report – RECOVER project.

Godino, Alejandro; Molina, Oscar (2019): The impact of Outsourcing on Collective Bargaining Coverage: A Comparative Analysis in Six Countries. Research Report – RECOVER project.

Godino, Alejandro; Molina, Oscar (2018): Who overcomes collective bargaining?. Outsourcing practices, regulatory framework and Facility Management in Spain. Country Report – RECOVER project

Payton, Noëlle; Keune, Maarten (2018): Outsourcing in the Netherlands: Challenges to traditional sector boundaries. Country Report – RECOVER project.

Pedaci, Marcello; Braga, Adolfo; Guarascio, Carmela (2018): Outsourcing of services and collective bargaining coverage in Italy. An analysis on cleaning, ICT and facility management services. Country Report – RECOVER project.

Rodríguez-Soler, Joan (2018): Outsourcing of services in France. The Challenges from collective bargainig system. Country Report – RECOVER project.

Dissemination activities:

website project

Article in UABDivulga

RECOVER Newsletter #1

RECOVER Newsletter #2

RECOVER Newsletter #3

RECOVER Newsletter #4

RECOVER Policy Brief

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