The pandemic-related restrictions introduced by the governments of the European Union (EU) member states have resulted in the closure of businesses and record temporary layoffs, according to authorities.

Temporary layoffs are measures taken by employers facing reduced sales or production, reports Xinhua news agency.

Temporarily laid off workers are usually re-engaged once work picks up.

In the first quarter of 2020, three million Europeans were absent from work because of temporary layoffs, Eurostat, the EU’s statistical office, said on Monday.

By the end of the second quarter, their number had increased to 13.8 million.

Then in the third quarter, the number of temporary layoffs fell to two million.

Finally, in the fourth quarter of 2020, the number of temporary layoffs rebounded to 3.1 million, Eurostat added.

The levels of temporary layoffs in the EU had been relatively stable at around 0.5 million people before 2020, with the exception of 2009, when their number increased to one million.

In January and February this year, the unemployment rate in the EU stood at 7.3 per cent and 7.5 per cent, respectively, equivalent to almost 16 million people.