How right are we to disconnect?
The digital age has brought with it drastic changes in our every day lives. We now find ourselves connected at all times. The benefits are clear for all to see but did we ever stop to consider the potential negative results stemming from such developments in communication technologies?
With WI-FI and 4G available in practically every household nowadays it is becoming increasingly difficult to find time to disconnect. A considerable percentage of employees in today’s world have access to work-related communications outside their working environment and working hours and have the facility of engaging in work-related activities outside of work.
Now, whilst in principle this can be regarded as a benefit and in certain circumstances making use of available communication technologies outside of the work environment may be important, not disconnecting during non-working hours can be potentially hazardous to employees’ health.
To-date there is no European Union (EU) legal framework which defines clearly what the ‘Right to Disconnect’ is therefore leaving ample room for interpretation in the way switching off from work is regulated. The Working Time Directive, however, does in some form or manner, refer to such rights indirectly and does mention the minimum daily and weekly rest periods that are required in order to safeguard workers’ health.
All this may however be about to change. Local Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Alex Agius Saliba has recently presented an amendment calling for the ‘Right to Disconnect digitally’ for workers, a recommendation which found overwhelming support by his fellow MEPs. Alex Saliba commented that the text, whilst being a first step is now officially a recommendation to the European Parliament.