The “always online” trend increases the risks of depression, anxiety and exhaustion © Deagreez / Adobe Stock

  • The trend “always online” increases the risk of depression, anxiety and exhaustion
  • EU law must set minimum requirements for working from home
  • No consequences for workers exercising their right to detach from the work environment

Parliament is calling for an EU law that gives workers the right to switch off their digital office devices without facing negative consequences.

In their legislative initiative, which was adopted by 472 votes to 126, with 83 abstentions, MEPs called on the Commission to propose legislation enabling people working with digital devices to exclude them outside working hours. . It should also set minimum requirements for working from home and clarify working conditions, working hours and rest periods.

The increased use of digital resources for official purposes has led to a culture of “always online”, which has a negative impact on the work-life balance of employees, MEPs say. Although working from home has played an important role in preserving jobs and businesses during the crisis with COVID-19, the combination of long working hours and higher demands also leads to more cases of anxiety, depression, exhaustion and other related problems. with physical and mental health.

MEPs believe that the right to leave the workplace is a fundamental right that allows workers to refrain from engaging in work-related tasks, such as telephone calls, e-mails and other digital communication, outside working hours. This includes holidays and other types of leave. Member States are encouraged to take all necessary measures to enable workers to exercise this right, including through collective agreements between the social partners. They should ensure that workers are not subjected to discrimination, criticism, dismissal or other adverse actions by employers.


“We cannot give up the millions of European workers who are exhausted by the pressure of always being ‘on line’ and working too long. Now is the time to stand behind them and give them what they deserve: the right to break away from the work environment. This is vital for our mental and physical health. It is time for workers’ rights to be modernized to meet the new realities of the digital age, “said rapporteur Alex Adjus Saliba (S&D, Malta) after the vote.


Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, work from home has increased by almost 30%. This high percentage is expected to be maintained or even increased. Eurofound surveys show that people who work regularly from home are more than twice as likely to exceed the maximum of 48 working hours per week than those who work in the employer’s building. Almost 30% of employees working from home report that they work in their free time every day or several times a week, compared to less than 5% of employees working in offices.