Protecting mental health in the digital workspace: right to disconnect Directive
Home Office (Teleworking) and right to disconnect in European Union: resolucion adopted on 5 July 2022 by MEPs.
MEPs urge the EU and member states to tackle the issue through an EU Mental Health Strategy, a European Care Strategy and national action plans. They note that the lack of binding common standards and principles regarding psychosocial risks in the EU leads to de facto unequal legal protection for workers
Parliament asks the EU institutions and member states to further regulate digital work to protect mental health, in cooperation with employers and workers’ representatives. The Commission, the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work and member states should include mental health in their health crisis and pandemic emergency response and preparedness plans.
MEPs call for a directive on minimum standards and conditions to ensure all workers the effective right to disconnect, and to regulate the use of existing and new digital tools for work purposes.
In a resolution adopted yesterday (5 July 2022) with 501 votes in favour, 47 against and 85 abstentions, Parliament recognises the benefits of working from home, like increased flexibility and autonomy, but warns of the significant health risks stemming from over-connection, a blurring of the lines between work and private life, and higher work intensity or “technostress” – the stress linked to work-related technology use.
Teleworking’s health and privacy risks
MEPs warn about the risks to workers’ mental health and the threats to the right to privacy posed by technology-enabled control and surveillance through software and AI tools, remote real-time monitoring of progress and performance and time-tracking.
They also point to other factors causing additional stress, including financial insecurity, fear of unemployment, limited access to healthcare, isolation, as well as changes to working hours and inadequate work organisation because of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent economic crisis.
Additionally, they highlight the impact the shift to teleworking may have on the mental health of those at risk of digital exclusion. They say that the digital divide in the EU needs to be addressed to ensure that all workers have a sufficient level of digital skills.