Workers' right to be offline, a threat to employment

Workers' right to be offline, a threat to employment

The European Parliament is calling on the European Commission for a directive that would give workers the right to be offline outside of working hours. German economist Gunther Schnabl is concerned that the introduction of such a solution would lead to job losses.

The European Parliament adopted the report on workers' right to be offline on Thursday (21.01). The EP does not have a legislative initiative, so de facto it is an appeal to the European Commission for a relevant directive.

"Of course, it depends on how specifically such regulations would be designed. But no doubt, in any case, they would lead to even more bureaucracy. This, in turn, would raise labour costs. As a result, jobs could be lost or, more likely, wages cut." - says in an interview with PAP Schnabl, who is the director of the Institute of Economic Policy at the University of Leipzig and a former advisor to the European Central Bank.

The most important advantage of the right to be offline would be more time to rest, according to the economist.

"Employees would not have to or even be prohibited from answering emails or phone calls from employers outside working hours. During this time, however, employers or supervisors may be forced to solve unexpected, important problems on their own - e.g. technical problems - without the appropriate preparation. in some cases it may stop production processes and result in high costs "- he says.

"Digitization has undoubtedly made it easier for employers to contact employees at any time. However, I would still rely on personal responsibility. Even now, employees are not forced to respond to employers' inquiries outside of working hours. Labour law ensures that an employee cannot be fired if not "It would be worth thinking in a different direction. Greater flexibility in labour markets and labour law would help more people find the job that best fits their personal concept of life", argues Schnabl.

He sees this initiative as part of a "mighty trend" in which the European Union and nation-states increasingly control many areas of citizens' lives.

"This can have positive effects on a case-by-case basis. However, increasing restrictions on freedom - especially in the workplace - can also put more stress on many workers and employers. EU efforts should therefore also focus on cutting red tape. This could make it much easier and easier to achieve." strengthen the competitiveness of the European economy, ”he suggests

“The state cannot regulate everything. Workers and employers should be free to decide together how best to organize work processes. Of course, an attractive workplace is one that also provides time to relax, "says Gunther Schnabl.

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