One of the items on the agenda of the European Parliament today was the vote on a proposal by Maltese MEP Alex Agius Saliba, on the Right to Disconnect.
The European Parliament in fact approved MEP Alex Agius Saliba’s report on the “Right to Disconnect” that calls for a binding EU law to grant this Right to all European workers. The vote passed with a majority of 472 votes in favour, 126 votes against and 83 abstentions.
Speaking after the successful vote on the report, Maltese MEP Alex Agius Saliba said: “Today’s vote is a historic milestone for European workers. We have put on the European Agenda the Right of all workers to disconnect in their free time.”
MEP Agius Saliba noted with great satisfaction that the Parliament has done its job, and called on the Commission and Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights Schmit to act immediately and put forward a proposal for legislation on the Right to Disconnect. He added that that the real impact on the very much needed workers’ rights in the digital world can only be ensured through legislation at the EU level.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed the way we work. Now, more than one in three European workers is working from home. The pressure to be always ‘on’, always reachable, is growing. Digital tools make it particularly difficult to switch off in our free time. We all know the feeling of constant pressure to check or feel obliged to reply to work-related emails and messages, worried that our immediate attention is required.”
Agius Saliba noted that the human cost is high: from un-paid overtime to exhaustion and burnout, and insisted that the EU cannot abandon millions of European workers, who kept going and did their job under the extremely difficult circumstances of the pandemic, but who are exhausted by the pressure to be always ‘on’ and the stretched-out working hours. He said, “Now is the moment to stand by their side and give them what they deserve: the Right to disconnect.”
In his speech at Plenary, MEP Agius Saliba emphasised that it is fundamental that workers are protected from the invasion in their rest time and ensure that their rights to rest and leisure and a maximum limit of the workday are safeguarded, adding that for this reason, the EU needs the introduce the Right to disconnect as a fundamental right.
The Right to disconnect allows workers to refrain from engaging in work-related tasks, activities, and electronic communication, such as phone calls, emails, and other messages, outside their working time, including during rest periods, official and annual holidays, maternity, paternity, and parental leave, and different types of leave, without facing any adverse consequences.