New UNI guide: Winning the right to disconnect by changing the law
Report analyses previous and current legislative efforts and provides recommendations.
As part of its ongoing campaign advocating for the right to disconnect, UNI Global Union’s Professionals & Managers group (UNI P&M) has released a new guide today for unions seeking to win a better work-life balance by making the right a law.
The right to disconnect allows workers to disengage from their work and to not receive or answer any work-related emails, calls, or messages outside of normal working hours. It is designed to establish boundaries for the use of electronic communication and to provide workers with an opportunity to prevent burnout, promote gender equality, and improve their quality of life.
“As more of us are working from home because of the pandemic, the right to disconnect has become more important than ever,” said Christy Hoffman, General Secretary of UNI Global Union. “Workers need a strong legislative framework, along with collective bargaining, to ensure that they have a fair work life balance.”
The report compares and contrasts approaches taken by previous successful efforts to establish the legal right to disconnect in Argentina, Belgium, Chile, France, Italy, and Spain. France was the first country to legislate a general right to disconnect in 2016. In Spain, the right was introduced as part of a set of new digital rights for workers and citizens. Italy was the first country to link the right to disconnect to remote work, with Chile and Argentina following suit.
It also analyses recent attempts at right to disconnect laws in Canada, India, the Philippines, and the United States.
From these efforts, UNI P&M has produced a set of recommendations, including: the need to bring in social partners, to clearly define the right to disconnect in the law, to anchor the right in an existing legal framework for labour standards, to cover all workers - regardless of employment status – and to make sure there are enforcement mechanisms.
“An ‘always on’ culture is bad for workers, bad for their families, and ultimately bad for employers,” said Alex Högback, Director of UNI P&M. “We look forward to working with our affiliate unions around the world to advance the right to disconnect through union negotiations and through legislation.”