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What does Right to Disconnect mean for unions?



While technology has helped to keep us connected and safe during the pandemic, it has also made it harder for many people to switch-off from work. Research shows that our working days are getting longer, and the convenience of digital technology means that many of us have found ourselves in an ‘always on’ work culture. Our latest survey work shows one-in-three of us are struggling to disconnect. And, if we want to make sure flexible work works for workers, not just employers, we need new rules of engagement for how this digital world works. We’ve been working with union colleagues across Europe, in Canada, Australia and other places to share best practice and build the worker case for new digital and data rules.

What should other unions be thinking about?

The always-on culture goes to the heart of modern work. Digital technology is transforming how we are managed and work. This invisible hand of technology now reaches beyond the office into our homes, challenging traditional ideas around employment rights, privacy and the right to a private life. Just look at some of the new tools now being used: digital surveillance software; key stroke monitoring; task allocation apps; tracking devices; digital productivity tools. This monitoring is commonplace if you work in logistics or the gig economy. But these principles of reducing us to data points is now extending across the labour market. Data is the health & safety challenge of the new economy. The government has promised us a new Employment Bill. This should include a Right to Disconnect for all workers to help safeguard our workers’ health and make work better for everyone. This is our fight – if any other unions want to get involved email me on Andrew.Pakes@prospect.org.uk

Want to know more?

Hear what Financial Services Union in Ireland has been doing on R2D in our webinar from June 2020

Read about our new Changing World of Work research which will look at all the new negotiating areas for unions