Right to Disconnect Webinar Overview and Results
The Malta IT Law Association (MITLA) organised a free-to-attend webinar on the Right to Disconnect on 23rd March. The webinar hosted a discussion on the right to disconnect that was put forward to the EU Commission by Maltese MEP Alex Agius Saliba.
The right to disconnect is a proposed right regarding the ability of people to disconnect from work and primarily not to engage in work-related electronic communications such as e-mails, calls or messages during non-work hours.
During the webinar, MITLA presented its position paper which can be found here.
MITLA believes that at this stage, a general public debate and consultation is required to determine the public sentiment towards the introduction of this right with all stakeholders, including employees, employers, trade unions and professionals. The webinar organised by MITLA was a first step in this regard. MITLA encourages corporates, individuals and students to become members of MITLA online at https://www.mitla.org.mt/membership/ in order to collaborate on the initiatives surrounding this proposed right.
Dr Antonio Ghio, MITLA President, also presented the results obtained following a survey of the general public. 23.4% of respondents said that they are unable to disconnect from work outside of office hours and 49.4% said that they are sometimes able to do so. The main causes for being unable to disconnect were client or customer demands, industry expectations and employer demands. 76.3% of respondents also felt that the right to disconnect is a fundamental human right, with a majority of 71.4% saying that they would feel comfortable exercising this right. Full survey results can be found here.
Panelists included Dr Alex Agius Saliba, the MEP responsible for pushing the proposals relating to the Right to Disconnect at EU Level, Professor Andre Xuereb, Ambassador for Digital Affairs, Dr Charlotte Camilleri, Executive in EU & Legal Affairs at the Malta Employer’s Association, Mr JP Fabri, Economist and co-Founding Partner of Seed Consultancy, and Dr Paul Gonzi, Partner at Fenech & Fenech.
The webinar established the following key outcomes (also available here).
- The need for all social partners to be involved in discussions, before any legislative stance is taken;
- The need to explore the right to disconnect not necessarily as a fundamental human right regulated by law, but also as a guiding principle, focusing more on self-regulation and open discussions between employers’ associations and unions of workers and the use of charters.
- The right to disconnect should not be a one size fits all solution and we cannot set rules for all industries and situations;
- The general health and wellbeing of employees should be a priority;
- The ability to disconnect lies with the employee not the employer; and what we must do is ensure that employees who want to disconnect are not penalised; Employees have a right to choose whether they want to disconnect or not, but this right should not impose on other employees.
- The state needs a strategy to emerge post-pandemic, in order to help us regain traction as fast as possible.
- The need for realisation that the physical and digital world mirror each other, and just as employees are not expected to be at their place of employment 24/7, neither can they be expected to be digitally connected 24×7.
Those who missed the webinar can watch it online: https://fb.watch/4qTP3CsYSa/