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European lawmakers seek to outlaw punishing employees who log off after work hours

European lawmakers seek to outlaw punishing employees who log off after work hours
© Greg Nash

European Parliament voted on Thursday to call for new laws to be considered that would outlaw punishing employees who log off and don’t respond to their work after work hours. 

European workers have been working long hours since the switch to remote work happened due to the coronavirus pandemic, Bloomberg reported. The vote Thursday signified that European lawmakers want a rule to protect workers that would allow them to log off work-related activities after work hours without punishment. 

“Do you have problems to switch off in your free time? Do you feel constant pressure to check & reply to work calls, emails, messages?” Alex Agius Saliba, a center-left member of the European Parliament, said in a tweet on Thursday. “#Right to #disconnect must be a fundamental Right.”

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The vote passed a majority of Parliament with 472 representatives backing the proposal. The vote puts a nonbinding call on the European Commission to put new rules for workers in the European Union law. 

However, this call for new rules to be established could take years to be solidified. The commission must accept the call, draft legislation and be approved by bloc’s lawmaking institutions. 

Many across the world have been struggling with balancing at-home work with family. Mental health concerns have flooded countries since millions of people have been on some version of lockdown since March.