The impossibility of disconnecting from work completely can affect mental and physical health seriously, which is why several Member States have taken steps to guarantee the ‘right to disconnect’, as in France (Labour Act – French only).
Many studies (such as the Eurofound report) show in fact that today the line between office and private life is becoming increasingly blurred and that it is more and more difficult to get away from work. One can certainly leave the office physically, but one never really leaves work. Emails, text messages, WhatsApp messages and Messenger messages invade home life. The impossibility of disconnecting from the obligations of working life is the source of much tension, seriously compromises our health and home and social lives and can lead to burnout.
Our institution wants to be modern, dynamic and flexible. Physical presence in the office is no longer indispensable: all that counts is the work done and the results achieved. Remote working is spreading, in response to an undeniable demand. Nowadays it is no longer unusual to receive urgent messages at any moment from one’s superior or colleagues, even at the weekend, when one is on holiday or even on sick leave. Then on account of conscientiousness or fear one gets back to work, willy nilly. Rest and home life are always sacrificed.
Must work always be given absolute priority? Does the obligation to be at the institution’s disposal at all times (Article 55 of the Staff Regulations) mean that we no longer have the right to take full advantage of our spare time but must remain attached to the office by a sort of electronic lead?
Union Syndicale believes that the European institutions ought to implement the best practice in force in the outside world and apply the ‘right to disconnect’. That is why we are launching a consultation: ask your family members, relatives and friends what they think about the ‘right to disconnect’ and let us know. On the basis of the feedback we receive, which will of course remain anonymous, Union Syndicale will prepare a proposal for the protection of staff from the danger of burnout.