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Vote on right to disconnect is test case for conservatives’ willingness to bring workers’ rights into the digital age

Date

20 Jan 2021

Sections

Social Europe & Jobs

Today, the European Parliament will vote on the S&D ‘Right to Disconnect’ report that calls for a binding EU law to grant this right to all European workers.

Speaking ahead of the vote on his report, S&D MEP Alex Agius Saliba, said:

“The Covid-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed the way we work. Now, more than one in three European workers are working from home. The pressure to be always ‘on’, always reachable, is growing as the boundaries between private life and work life are increasingly becoming blurred. Working from home makes it particularly difficult to switch off. Studies show that people who regularly work from home are twice as likely to work more than the maximum 48 hours per week limit laid down in EU law. The human cost is high: from unpaid overtime, to muscular and eye illnesses, to depression and burnout. We cannot abandon millions of European workers, who keep going and do their jobs under the extremely difficult circumstances of the pandemic, but who are exhausted by the pressure to be always 'on' and the extended working hours. Now is the moment to stand by their side and give them what they deserve: the right to disconnect.

“After working hours or while on holidays, workers must be able to switch off their phone or emails without fear of negative consequences. This is vital for our mental and physical health. It is time to update worker’s rights to the new realities of the digital age.”

Agnes Jongerius MEP, S&D spokesperson on employment and social rights, said:

“In today’s vote the liberals and conservatives will have to put their cards on the table: are they willing to bring workers’ rights into the digital age or not? The right to disconnect will improve the lives of millions of Europeans workers, but it is also a piece of a bigger puzzle: the battle to update workers’ rights to the challenges of the digital 21st century. Whether the digital revolution will only make the lucky few richer or will truly improve the lives of the many, will largely depend on how we manage it and legislate on it. During the last industrial revolution, parliaments – led by the workers’ movement – played a crucial rule in anchoring workers’ rights in law and thereby making them a reality for people.  We are now called upon to ensure that digitisation does not undermine hard-won workers’ rights such as decent working conditions, clearly stipulated working hours and rest times, fair pay and definitely the right to disconnect.

“In this vote, the EPP and Renew will have to show their true colours and decide on which side of history they want to go down. In my eyes, it would be shameful to deny millions of workers their desperately needed right to disconnect and a sin not to ensure that the technological progress of digitisation brings social progress for the many.”

 

 

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