Teleworking and gender equality - conditions so that teleworking does not exacerbate the unequal distribution of unpaid care and domestic work between women and men and for it to be an engine for promoting gender equality

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Avizul CESE: Teleworking and gender equality - conditions so that teleworking does not exacerbate the unequal distribution of unpaid care and domestic work between women and men and for it to be an engine for promoting gender equality

Key points:

The EESC:

  • draws the attention to the risk of using teleworking as a possibility of taking up the double burden of paid and unpaid work. It welcomes the European Commission (EC) campaign on combating gender stereotypes, reiterates the need for a cultural change and for removing any structural barriers in order to achieve more equal distribution of the unpaid domestic work and urges the Member States (MS) to promptly and efficiently implement the Work-Life Balance Directive;
  • notes that there is no consolidated European framework on telework. It therefore recommends an assessment of the existing rules to determine their effectiveness in the light of the rapid expansion of telework, awareness of new risks, and the lessons learnt. In particular, it encourages the social partners to review the 2002 Framework Agreement on Telework and give it new impetus;
  • considers that social partners can play a significant role in advancing teleworking in a way that contributes to gender equality, promoting well-being at work and productivity, e.g., through collective bargaining;
  • reiterates its call for investing in digital infrastructure and connections for all, including local shared spaces that facilitate teleworking outside the home, as well as enhancing digital skills, with special attention to women, in order to enable them to fully participate in labour markets and address any form of digital divide;
  • calls for a "Care Deal for Europe", ensuring the provision of greater quality services for all throughout the life-cycle. It urges the MS to ensure and invest in the availability of high quality, affordable, accessible and diverse care services to respond to various demands and situations;
  • calls for research into the gender implications and prerequisites of teleworking under conditions not dominated by the pandemic and taking into account long-term developments in different sectors of the economy and society, as well as collecting and disseminating existing good practices across the EU. This would allow for a gender-sensitive approach in achieving the necessary technological and social innovation to ensure that teleworking contributes to promoting gender equality;
  • calls for targeted actions and campaigns to reduce and break down stereotypical thinking. The EESC encourages social partners and civil society organisations (CSO) at EU and national level to take an active role in advocating non-stereotypical family roles and choices of women and men with respect to studies, professions and jobs;
  • and calls on EU and national decision makers, in dialogue and cooperation with the social partners, to make every effort to combat any form of violence against women – including at work, at home and on-line –, and invites the MS to swiftly ratify the Violence and Harassment Convention, 2019 (No. 190) of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Istanbul Convention.