Agius Saliba appeals to Commission to implement right-to-disconnect law immediately

Labour MEP says ever-connected, always-on culture might lead to better profits for employers but negatively impacts the quality of life of the working class

Employees must be able to say no to the always-on work culture without fear of losing their job, Labour MEP Alex Agius Saliba told an S&D conference.

Agius Saliba said a decreasing quality of life was being cause by unpadi overtine, stress, exhaustion, burnout, isolation, fatigure and depression.

“Employees receive work-related messages 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The ever-increasing expectation of prompt replies is depriving workers of their free time outside office hours… An ever-connected, always-on culture may lead to better profits for employers but negatively impacts the quality of life of the working class… Employees should be able to say - no, not now - without fear of losing their job,” Agius Saliba said.

Agius Saliba convened a high-level conference at the European Parliament wit the S&D group, entitled the ‘Right to Disconnect - No time to waste!’, discussing the implementation of this right and the need to proceed with great urgency. 

The event was divided into two panels of distinct speakers, with the European Trade Union Confederation and the European Public Service Union joining the Labour MEP’s call for immediate actions from the European Commission.

Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, Nicolas Schmit, said that the process of proposing legislation on the Right to Disconnect will start in the next few weeks with opening the stages of social partners consultation.

Agius Saliba observed that the implementation of this law has now become a matter of greater urgency following the increase in the practice of teleworking, which became popular during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There is no more time to waste. Over 80% of workers receive work-related messages in their free time. Feeling responsible, wishing to stay ‘on top of things’ because it is expected, and fear of a negative impact are key reasons for workers to stay connected and to work during their free time and rest periods. We need an EU that protects workers and ensures they can enforce their fundamental right to disconnect from work and to have sufficient rest periods,” Agius Salba said.

The event was organised as no agreement was reached in a meeting between social partners which was held last November. The European Parliament debated the matter in December and demanded that the European Commission takes over responsibility and proposes a Directive without further delay.

Agius Saliba, who successfully led Parliament’s call for the Right to Disconnect Directive by adopting a legislative report on his own initiative, reiterated Parliament’s call for the Commission to adopt the directive immediately. 

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