Working Conditions of European Journalists

The EFJ drafted preliminary conclusions  of a best practice review of collective

agreements in Europe (following replies to a

specific questionnaire sent to member unions in 2008). Member unions which did not reply to the questionnaire can ask the EFJ Secretariat for more information.The summary below has been drafted by the Labour Rights expert group (LAREG) and still needs to be completed.


Working Time and Holiday Regulations

a) Working time

 The 30 hours per week working time that is in effect in Greece for those employed by the Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation (ERT) is the shortest one of all in comparison with other European countries, most of which enforce a 35-hour work week.

b) Overtime

Journalists working in Romania are among the best paid ones in terms of overtime in Europe, as they're entitled to an additional 100% of their base salary for the hours worked beyond their standard shift. The same regime is in effect

in Greece.

 In the remaining countries, the compensatory increase for

overtime amounts to approximately 20%, while in Slovakia journalists are not

entitled to any compensation for time worked beyond the standard hours.

c) Night shifts

In most countries, a night shift is designated as work performed from 22.00 to 06.00, with the exception of Switzerland where a night shift

starts at 20.00. As for night shift compensation, many countries provide the employee

with the option to choose between additional compensation (which in some countries

is an extra percentage of the paid salary -for instance, in Italy it's an

additional 16%-  or it's a standard

increase in the rate of pay - in Norway, for example, the additional pay is 21€

per hour) and in time off (for example, in Switzerland journalists are granted

one week off for every two hours worked four times a week). It should be noted that journalists in Slovakia are not compensated for night shifts.

d) Public Holidays

When it comes to work during a public holiday, the most favorable regime can be found in Romania, where journalists are entitled to additional compensation pay

that amounts to 100% of the base salary, while in Norway journalists are given 150€ in compensation.

e) Vacation

        Journalists in Norway seem to reap the greatest benefits when it comes to their annual vacation time, as they are entitled to at least five (5) weeks vacation time per year - that is 35 workdays off[1].

Trade Union Rights

a) Strikes

In every national legislation of the countries that are partaking in this survey, a strike is presented as a last resort for resolving disputes and is opted for only when all other means of settlement have been exhausted (such as negotiations, wildcat strikes, etc), otherwise it bears the risk of being declared illegal. Also, there are no specific and

distinct strike regulations for journalists.  

b) Dismissal

According to the Norwegian

collective agreement, in cases where there is no extraordinary reason for

dismissal, a three-month notice has to be provided either by the journalist or by the employer.  A similar regulation in enforced

in Greece,

but the notice of termination is not mandatory.

c) Leave:

ι) maternity: Women journalists in Romania can stay at home until their child reaches the age of two, while she receives her full salary throughout the duration of maternity leave. She also has the right to take an additional year off work, albeit without pay. In the event she returns to work earlier than the two years of maternity leave, she is entitled to take two hours off her daily work shift. Slovakia's legislation is liberal with single-parent families, where the parent cannot be fired until his/her child reaches the age of six. In Greece, an employee cannot be fired during the duration of her

pregnancy and for a year after having given birth.

         ιι) Militaryservice:  In Norway, the journalist's salary is paid in full for one year, even during the

duration of  military duty.

       ιιι) Paternity: Norwegian law provides for a

two-week paternity leave with pay, while 

it also grants time off for the first day of kindergarten or school, so

that the parent may accompany the child. 

      ιv) Moving:Norway provides for time off when the employee is to relocate to a new home.

      v) Illness: According to Swiss

law, journalists are provided with a 720-day sick leave, during which period

the journalist's insurance fund provides 80% of his/her salary.

Journalists in Hostile Environment

ι) Assignmenttohostilegrounds

Most of the participating countries' legislation doesn't include any provision for dangerous professional assignments and only Romania provides a 10% of the base salary stipend for

dangerous missions, as well as a 200% base salary stipend for extremely

dangerous missions[2].

Training and Access to the Profession

ιι) Training forJournalists

The majority of the participating countries lack any specific

regulations on journalism training. The

strictest requirements have been drawn by Switzerland which requires two

years of prior experience in the media sector and the completion of a nine-week

academic training course.  

ιιι) Retirement

The best system can be found in Romania, where the lowest age limit for retirement is 63

years of age for men and 58 for women.

ιν) Accesstotheprofession

Access to and exit from the profession is free in all countries, except inItaly, where journalists entering the profession are required to have completed an 18-month apprenticeship and pass an

examination. Similarly in Spain,

aspiring journalists have to also pass an examination in order to enter the


ν) Editorial independence and

internal democracy

Nothing specific has been foreseen through collective agreements or

legislation. Internal democracy in the media sector and editorial independence is

supported through a union's code of ethics, which in Greece has a binding effect for

employers, as it has been adopted and is enforced through collective


Recent Developments:

ι) Entry-level salary:

Switzerland is by far the

best place for a newcomer to work, as the entry-level salary amounts to 3.350€.

ιι) outsourcing

Outsourcing, that is assigning a company's work to independent contractors and, in this case, sending journalists to cover stories on a per assignment basis, is a new trend.  Italy has taken strict measures to

address this phenomenon and has formed the comitatodiredazione specifically for this reason.

ιιι) freelancers

In most countries, freelancers aren't

covered by the collective agreements for journalists. Switzerland has established a minimum wage

limit, while there's an effort underway in Romania to include freelancers in

the collective agreements so that they may gain equal rights with the other


iv) New Media, same companies

Journalism work in various Internet sites has been included in Italian

legislation through a special clause of the collective agreement, but most

countries enforce one of two systems: either there is a newsroom department

that works solely for the Internet editions, or the existing staff also does

the online work.

v) Blogs

There is no legislative provision in the participating countries

to regulate journalist-operated blogs.  

Short overview on the

best and the worst provisions

Each of the participating countries has an area where it believes it

has conquered an achievement, while it also notes which area is in need of

improvement. Listed separately below are their points of view:


journalists' professional autonomy, as well as the good working conditions rank

among the achievements. The journalists' unions and

associations are trying to establish a unified platform for the enforcement of

collective agreements, regardless of which media the journalists are working

at. Another issue of concern is the rising unemployment rate and the Italian journalists are searching for ways

to address this through the collective agreements.


greatest achievements for the Romanian journalists are the following: the level

of wages (along with the extras which have been included in the collective

agreement), the provision for consciousness and misrivalry, the addition of the

journalists' code of ethics, as well as significant gains for the members of

the journalists' union. Now they're trying to enforce sanctions on those employers

who refuse to publish the decisions drawn by the equality committee on a

journalistic level and are also seeking to oblige employers to pay for their

employees' seminars ad further training.


Norwegian journalists consider the pension regulation as their greatest achievement,

as well as the establishment of the minimum levels for the future pensions.

They're now striving for the establishment of a lowest wage limit.  

SWITZERLAND:  The greatest victory for the Swiss journalists is the provision that establishes author's rights for freelance journalists. From the year 2002 to today, the Swiss believe that the situation has slightly worsened due to the absence of social dialogue for the renewal of the collective agreement in the German-speaking part of the country.

SLOVAKIA:There is no collective

agreement in Slovakia.

Media workers are afraid to express their points of view - the employers are

mandated by law to discuss any whatsoever issue is asked of them on the work

premises. There's no one to cooperate with at a national level, as the

Publishers' Union and the Broadcasters' Union

have no interest in acceding to other employers' unions. In comparison to 2002,

there has been a slight improvement in the overall labor sector, but that is

not true for the media sector.


greatest achievement for the Spanish journalists is gaining labor rights, a

move that introduced regulations in a wholly unregulated sector, through

collective agreements and the bargaining process. The journalists' union plans to

include administrative staff in the collective agreements, as well as freelance

journalists, who are often used by the employers as a tool to downgrade the

working conditions of the rest of the staff.  


considers the relatively high wages earned by journalists- in comparison with workers

in other sectors- as an important achievement, along with the establishment of

its own health insurance plan which provides high quality services to its

members.   Greek journalists are presently trying to: establish

authors' rights and protection of sources, secure full labor rights for short-term

or contracted employees, put a break on the industry of lawsuits against

journalists and abolish the risk of untrustworthy publishers.

[1]  It's noteworthy that in Slovakia only a few journalists-freelancers enjoy vacation time, as most

journalists there aren't entitled to any

time off for vacation. To make matters worse, in the event work is slow and

their presence is not deemed necessary, their absence is considered as leave

without pay.


[2] In Italy, a killed journalist's family is entitled to compensation that amounts to 92.962,24€, while in the event of long-term disability, the

journalist is entitled to 108.455,95€ in compensation. In Greece, in the event of death or total disability, the compensation amounts to five years' salaries, while in

the event of partial disability, the journalist is entitled to a full  salary for the duration of his/her