Detrimental impacts on employees’ physical and mental health

    Alex AGIUS SALIBA in the EP in Strasbourg

    Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

    Putting pressure on employees to be always available has detrimental impacts on physical health and mental well-being and complicates the achievement of the fundamental rights of health and safety, as well as working time limitations, remuneration and compensation. I’ve expressed this view during an initial exchange of views in Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, on the need to take action at the European level in order to provide a more effective framework for the right to disconnect.

    For the first time, by the end of the year, the European Parliament is expected to adopt, an own-initiative report on the topic. The report will aim at safeguarding the mental and physical health of workers and their right to digitally disconnect especially in the recent increase of teleworking arrangements due to the COVID-19 crisis.

    During the discussions, I clearly announced my position there must be a general right to disconnection at the European level that clarifies and strengthens the right of workers to disconnect from a work-related device and not respond to a request without facing adverse consequences.

    During the Covid-19 crisis, many companies switched to telework, and it is to be expected that teleworking will also become increasingly common in the aftermath of the pandemic. It is true that remote working increases flexibility and offers a number of advantages, but there are also some risks that need to be addressed in relation to the health and well being of workers.

    He explained that the right to disconnect is an existing right to decent working conditions, very much needed for the well being of all workers whether they are home with their family in the evening, on leave or holidays, but especially during teleworking when working time tends to be hard to respect.

    Teleworking is a cause for concern since according to the experts, it can indeed lead to an always-on culture which can be characterized by long working hours, insufficient rest, work-family conflict, and a high level of work intensity, which leads to stress, anxiety and burnout.