COVID-19 and undeclared work: impacts and policy responses in Europe

Williams C. C., Kayaoglu A.

SERVICE INDUSTRIES JOURNAL, vol.40, no.13-14, pp.914-931, 2020 (SSCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 40 Issue: 13-14
  • Publication Date: 2020
  • Doi Number: 10.1080/02642069.2020.1757073
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, IBZ Online, ABI/INFORM, Business Source Elite, Business Source Premier, CAB Abstracts, Geobase, Hospitality & Tourism Complete, Hospitality & Tourism Index
  • Page Numbers: pp.914-931
  • Keywords: Coronavirus, informal economy, undeclared work, tax evasion, service sector, public policy, INFORMAL ECONOMY, SERVICE INDUSTRIES, EMPLOYMENT, LABOR, PARTICIPATION, PREVALENCE, EMPLOYEES, LESSONS
  • Istanbul Technical University Affiliated: Yes


The Coronavirus pandemic has led to restrictions on movement and workplace closures, resulting in governments offering temporary financial support to enterprises and workers. This paper evaluates a group unable to access this financial support, namely those in the undeclared economy, and possible policy responses. To identify the service industries and workers involved, a late 2019 Eurobarometer survey of undeclared work in Europe is reported. This reveals that undeclared work is particularly prevalent in the hospitality, retail and personal services sectors and identifies the population groups over-represented. Given that this undeclared workforce is now largely unable to work, it will be argued that providing access to temporary financial support, through a voluntary disclosure initiative, would be a useful initiative not only to provide the income support these enterprises and workers need but also to bring them out of the shadows and put them on the radar of the state authorities.