Covid-19: ‘It’s okay to log out’

Natalia Drozdiak, Bloomberg January 22 | Updated on January 22, 2021

EU lawmakers claim in the new WFH normal, employees must have legal rights to disconnect electronic comunication past office hours

Working from home during the pandemic has kept colleagues from spreading the coronavirus in the office but, in many cases, it’s also meant longer hours for employees spent toiling away at a computer or on Zoom calls.

The European Parliament wants to change that. Employees in Europe should have legal rights to switch off from work-related tasks and electronic communication outside of office hours without facing consequences, said European lawmakers on Thursday.

Also read: Time spent on email up by 55% due to WFH, say millenials: Survey

A majority of the European Parliament, 472 representatives, backed a non-binding call urging the bloc’s executive, the European Commission, to propose new rules enshrining the rights for workers in European Union law.

“Thank you for supporting European workers,” tweeted Alex Agius Saliba, a center-left member of the European Parliament who pushed for the changes, adding that he was urging the commission to “make a proposal for legislation quickly.”

The commission didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Some European countries, including France, already have a right to disconnect written into national law.

Extreme mental stress

If the commission decides to heed the Parliament’s call, it could still take years before new rules enter into force. The commission would first have to draw up a legislative proposal, which subsequently would need approval by the bloc’s lawmaking institutions.

Also read: 1 in 5 adults developed pandemic-related mental disorders: Analysis

The Covid-19 has exacerbated mental stress for employees around the world, many of whom are out of work or fear they may lose their jobs. Working from home has also blurred the lines of work and family life, with parents having to juggle schooling children in addition to day jobs.

Published on January 22, 2021

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