During the COVID-19 pandemic, teleworking has helped save jobs, and limited the loss of economic activity. Millions of European workers began working from home – around 40%. The pandemic expedited the shift to teleworking, and it became essential in tackling the health crisis. Businesses, workers and society faced huge challenges. Obviously, there will be numerous lessons to be learned from the pandemic, enabling us to make the most of opportunities and eliminate the risks associated with telework.
- urges the Commission and Member States to monitor the implementation of the Framework agreements by the European Social Partners, the 2002 Agreement on Telework and the 2020 Agreement on Digitalisation. In the light of the experience gained from the pandemic existing regulations in the EU and in the Member States could be amended and new regulations created so as to promote the positive aspects of telework and protect the fundamental rights of workers. The EESC notes that the organisation of working time, the risks to health and safety at work, work-life balance, the right to disconnect and the effectiveness of labour rights when teleworking must be given special attention.
- highlights the need for Member States, with the involvement of the social partners, to ensure that there is an appropriate national framework for teleworking, setting out the rules of play for companies and workers interested in adopting this form of work.
- is of the view that, in terms of regulation, the key issues are to ensure: that teleworking is voluntary and reversible and that teleworkers have the same individual and collective rights as comparable workers in the companies that they work for, including by organising work so as to ensure that workload is comparable; that the teleworking arrangements are set out in written form; and that specific measures are established, where necessary, to guarantee the effectiveness of teleworkers' rights, including health and safety conditions at work. The EESC recognises that it is important for all issues relating to equipment, responsibilities and costs to be clearly defined before commencing telework.
- suggests that in relation to teleworking, and in accordance with European and national legislation on telework and collective bargaining agreements at national, regional, sectoral and company level, companies should use appropriate mechanisms to measure normal working hours and overtime, and it stresses that teleworkers must not be disadvantaged in their working life.