Right to disconnect – No to legislative veto amendment


ETUC welcomes the European Parliament’s interest in the right to disconnect. It is an important right for the quality and dignity of life of working people. It is a right that European employers’ organisations refuse to recognise and are trying to block.

The ETUC is calling on the S&D Group to withdraw the last-minute damaging amendment preventing legislative action on the right to disconnect for three years – which in reality means around eight years (given the length of the legislative process and coming-into-force period).

The attempt to create a “legislative veto” by this amendment is wrong and dangerous because:

  1.  While purporting to support the right to disconnect it asks for legislative inaction for almost a decade: The huge increase in homeworking due to COVID has started a trend which will not go away: homeworking is here to stay, and legislators would be abandoning their responsibility if they ruled out legislation on the right to disconnect for a long period of time.
  2. While purporting to respect the autonomy of unions and employers to make agreements the amendment actually makes any future autonomous agreement very unlikely. ETUC would find it very difficult to get a mandate to enter into an agreement in the future, if the Commission thought it could not initiate legislation on the same topic for almost a decade. Far from respecting such agreements it kills them.
  3. There is nothing in the EU Treaties or EU law that suggests that the EU cannot or should not propose legislation within 3 years of the social partners signing an autonomous agreement on the same topic. What is more, the European Parliament has no competence to interpret the Treaty provisions on European Social Dialogue and on a social partners’ autonomous agreement.
  4. The Autonomous Agreement on Digitalisation covers a wide scope of topics including artificial intelligence and digital surveillance. Would the European Parliament want to rule out EU legislative action on these topics for many years? Do MEPs want to have the Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act withdrawn because of the Autonomous Agreement?
  5. The European Social Partners Autonomous Framework Agreement on Digitalisation does not even mention the right to disconnect, but rather states how the “modalities of connection and disconnection” are a topic for negotiation between unions and employers.
  6. The veto on legislation amendment puts a weapon in the hands of those who oppose legislation on the rights and working conditions of working people. It would be a fundamental and very serious error of judgement.

The ETUC appreciates the value of the European Parliament resolution on the Right to Disconnect, but this would be turned into huge damage if the “legislation veto” amendment is approved. That is why the ETUC is calling for a vote against the Opinion tomorrow Thursday if it includes the amendment in its current form.