Legal preconditions for sustainable remote work in EU in the time of emerging technologies
Authors: Marta Urbane
Abstract: The aim of sustainable work is to create a living and working environment that encourages individuals to enter and remain in the workforce for an extended period. During times of crisis, sustainable work has become a key factor in supporting economic growth while simultaneously prioritizing workers' well-being. While emerging technologies have the potential to enhance productivity, they can also contribute to an "always-on" culture in the workplace and widen working time, which can adversely affect the work-life balance of remote employees. Assessing the legal framework for remote work in the EU and its suitability for ethical employment practices, it is essential to support the future viability of remote employees' professional lives. Although an increasing number of individuals are choosing to work remotely, and more companies are offering remote work options, there still are unresolved legal issues in EU regulations, such as the definition of working time in the context of remote work and the regulation of employees' right to disconnect. Additionally, EU member states have differing attitudes towards promoting remote work, which can create a risk to the protection of employees' rights and the principle of equality within the EU.The goal of the research is to provide a comprehensive analysis and identify legal obstacles to sustainable remote work in the EU, based on an examination of the legal framework in the EU and case law of the EU Court of Justice and to draw evidence-based conclusions about the legal preconditions of sustainable remote work in EU.The research employs thorough research methods including literature analysis, legislation analysis, case law analysis, and secondary data analysis. The author uses different legal research methods, such as analytical, comparative, deductive, and inductive to identify legal obstacles to sustainable remote work in EU regulations. The main findings indicate that, even though there are efforts at the EU level to promote remote workers' well-being and legal protection, specific tools in EU legislation are still required to achieve the objective of sustainable remote work in the EU. For instance, the right of employees to disconnect has been initiated, but no legally binding document has been created to execute this right uniformly across all EU member states. It is also determined that different levels of encouraging remote work exist in EU member states, resulting in various protections for remote employees. This results in a scenario where remote workers have no efficient legal protection, which can be a basis for human rights violations. The research also finds instances of successful remote work initiatives and good practices in the EU, highlighting the potential advantages of sustainable remote work.
Keywords: Sustainable work, remote work, the right to disconnect, labour law, EU
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