DBI at the European Parliament for the Conference on the Right to Disconnect and Telework

On 15th March 2022, the Executive Secretary of DBI and our Advocacy Trainee had the honour to attend an on-site event at the European Parliament hemicycle for the Conference on the Right to Disconnect and Telework, organized by the European Commission Directorate General for Employment and Social Inclusion and the European Parliament.

This future-oriented conference aimed at providing a forum to present the perspectives of EU institutions, Member States, social partners and relevant stakeholders, looking into trends and evolution of telework and the right to disconnect, their related opportunities, challenges and the various policy responses.
The agenda of the event included three main sessions focused on national approaches to telework and the right to disconnect, the role of social partners’ agreements and social dialogue and the challenges related to working conditions, health, satefy and the gender and digital divide. The three sessions took turns with fireside chats, presentations and discussions with relevant figures in the sector such as representatives from international and European organizations, research centers, universities, and trade unions. Moreover, we had the chance to listen to the contributions of institutional figures such as Commissioner Nicholas Schmit, Dragoș Pîslaru, VP Dubravka Šuica and various MEPs.

Dubravka Šuica, Vice President for Democracy and Demography – European Commission

This conference constituted an important milestone to deliver this topic at the EU level, inviting to reflect to what extent action must be taken to address this challenge from the working and social point of view, in a context where our labour market is experiencing a time of structural changes.

The Right to Disconnect is linked to the widespread use of digital tools and technologies in the workplace, cutting across many policy areas, especially in the context of telework. The Covid-19 pandemic acted as a social experiment when it comes to teleworking, from both the employers and employees’ sides. It contributed to face these challenges and also new realities, still today: teleworkers experience constant pressure to be available all the time, affecting their productivity and work-life balance, having repercussions on both physical and mental health. While the legislative content keeps to be discussed at the EU level between Commission, Parliament and the Council, Member States, employers and social partners question on their responsibilities in protecting their workers and negotiating agreements for fair working conditions.

The right to disconnect is a matter of unplugging, not exclusively related to telework: as Don Bosco International, we are committed to promote the rights of all workers, especially young people, women and vulnerable ones in this new framework of teleworking and their families’ access to a weekly synchronised time free from work, as proposed by the European Sunday Alliance.

Visit the website of the conference if you want to have more insights on the initiative: https://www.right2disconnect.eu/

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