Eurofound has just published a report on the impact of the right to disconnect in the workplace, illustrating it with practical cases. Indeed, digital technologies have made it possible to work faster at any time and anywhere, especially during the Covid-19 crisis. Since then, more than one in three Europeans work from home. But teleworking can have adverse effects on workers’ physical and mental health.
According to Eurofound, workers are twice as likely to exceed the 48-hour working time limit, not get enough rest and work in their free time. To address this problem, there have been calls for a “right to disconnect”. MEPs have called on the Commission to bring forward an EU directive on the right to disconnect, a right they consider fundamental.
In its new report, the European Foundation comes to the following conclusions:
- After the shift to telework during the pandemic, hybrid forms of work are likely to increase in the future; is existing labour legislation adequate?
- The experience of the first four Member States to introduce rules and agreements on the right to disconnect before 2021 has demonstrated the central role of the social partners in ensuring practical translation on the ground. Failing that, legislation may be an option to ensure compliance with minimum standards.
- In companies, a “soft” approach that focuses on awareness raising, training and managing the connection outside working hours is more common than a “hard” approach, which consists of cutting off access to company communications at specific times.
New agreements and legislation on the right to disconnect will need to take into account the factors that lead to the “perceived” need for constant connection, such as workload, lack of training and work processes that fuel over-connection. Management buy-in and regular reinforcement of the message about the importance of the right to disconnect will be essential to its success.
- Evidence is still lacking, but the social partners’ experience of the impact of the right to disconnect on employee health and wellbeing, work-life balance, gender equality and business performance suggests that positive changes in company culture are taking place following the introduction of the right to disconnect.