Smart working, yes to the right to disconnect: what changes

Smart working: workers have the right to disconnect. This is foreseen by an amendment to the Covid decree of March approved by the Chamber’s combined Social Affairs and Labor Commissions. Let’s see what changes.

Smart working: the right to disconnect is okay with an amendment by the 5 Star Movement to the Covid decree of March approved by the Chamber’s joint Social Affairs and Labor Commissions. But what changes ?

The right to disconnect is recognized where the Covid decree provides for smart insurance working until June 30 for parents with children up to 16 years of age in distance learning or quarantine.

The amendment recognizes the right to disconnect for smart working workers to protect their rest time and health. For public administrations at the moment, the protection remains that of collective agreements, without prejudice to the need to re-discuss the discipline also for the post-pandemic.

It is no coincidence that the European Parliament recently approved the Resolution 2019/2181 of January 21, which invites the European Commission to draw up a Directive that all Member States will then have to adapt to regarding the right to disconnect guaranteed to workers in smart working and not.

We remind you that at the moment, smart working with the simplified procedure, therefore without an agreement, is scheduled until April 30 – although an extension is being considered – proving to be a fundamental tool in the world of work also to tackle the pandemic.

The amendment on the right to disconnect for smart working is a step forward for the discipline. Let‘s see what it provides in detail.

Smart working, yes to the right to disconnect: what changes

The right to disconnect for smart working is recognized with the amendment to the Covid decree of March. It changes for parents with children under 16 years of age in distance learning or quarantine until June 30.

We remind you that the Covid decree establishes that those who cannot carry out work in an agile mode until that date can use paid parental leave or even alternatively the babysitter bonus for children up to 14 years (between 14 and 16 years of leave is unpaid).

With the approved amendment, where for the PA the discipline remains that of collective agreements, the amendment verbatim establishes that “the right to disconnect from technological equipment and platforms is recognized to the worker who carries out the activity in an agile mode IT, in compliance with any agreements signed by the parties and without prejudice to any agreed availability periods.”

And again, it is established that the right to disconnect in smart working is “necessary to protect the rest time and the worker’s health, it cannot have repercussions on the employment relationship or remuneration.”

On the other hand, these are the principles on which the Resolution of the European Parliament we have mentioned is also based.

Beyond the provisions of the emergency decree, the goal in Italy is to change the discipline on smart working or agile work, strengthening it concerning the right to disconnect and collective bargaining.

The Minister of Labor, Andrea Orlando, recently spoke on the issue, recalling how smart working is working in all respects. Therefore, it will have to find a strong affirmation in the legislation, together with the right to disconnect, even after the pandemic.

Although today the simplified form of smart working for Covid emergencies applies in derogation to the law above, in general, an agreement between employer and employee is necessary for agile work.

The right to disconnect in Italy is currently relegated to agile work. It is not recognized as a fundamental right at the national level for all workers, as is the case in Spain or France, even those not in smart working.

The trade unions have repeatedly reiterated the need further to regulate smart working or agile work with collective bargaining.

Smart working and the right to disconnect: what the EU Resolution asks for

We could hear about smart working and the right to disconnect for a long time, especially after the approval of the Resolution by the European Parliament in January that we mentioned. Central to the approved Resolution is the right to disconnect recognized to smart workers as fundamental for protecting workers’ health.

The hyper-connected culture and the growing expectation that workers can always be reachable at all times can have negative effects on work-life balance, physical and mental health, and personal well-being in general.

The Resolution last approved in January by the European Parliament defines what is meant by the right to disconnect, namely: “the failure to carry out business activities or communications using digital tools, directly or indirectly, outside working hours.”

The right to disconnect with smart working becomes even more a requirement if we consider that since the COVID-19 pandemic began, about one-third of European workers have been remote. Still, there is currently no common regulation in Europe defining the right to disconnect. It is now the approved Resolution that is asking for it.

Through the subsequent Directive of the Commission, but already with the Resolution, in reality, the governments of the Member States could undertake to support the trade unions in regulating the right to disconnect in the renewal of collective agreements thanks also to the amendment approved, with the government announcements and the commitment of the unions, seems an immediate goal.

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