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EU: The “right to disconnect”

The future of telework legislation remains uncertain, with BusinessEurope opposing new laws and calling for flexibility, while the ETUC advocates for a separate law and highlights concerns about AI surveillance.

Background: In late 2023, negotiations between the EU social partners, the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) and BusinessEurope, and other employer groups, deadlocked on a possible agreement on telework and the right to disconnect when employer groups found themselves unable to sign off on a final text.

The bottom line 1: BusinessEurope believes that existing laws on working time and health and safety provide a sufficient framework to manage remote working and that a new law is not required. Further, rather than trying to impose a rigid framework on remote work, its evolution is best left to employers and workers, individually or collectively, to work out how to manage it in their mutual interest.

The bottom line 2: Meanwhile the ETUC believes a new law is necessary, and it again repeats its call for a separate law on managing AI in the workplace to deal with what it calls intrusive management surveillance of people working remotely. It will now be up to the Commission to evaluate the responses and to decide if it wishes to push ahead with a new law. Further developments are unlikely until later this year.

What's next: The Commission will evaluate the responses from business organizations and trade unions and decide whether to proceed with a new law. More progress is expected later this year.

 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

BusinessEurope here and ETUC here responses to the EU Commission consultation

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Authors: Tom Hayes

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