15 April, 2022

Social partners discuss the Right to Disconnect based on a collaborative working culture


Last Friday, The Malta Chamber and the Malta Business Bureau organised a webinar discussing key topics from the EU autonomous framework agreement on digitalisation. The event was organised in association with the General Workers Union as part of the EU TransFormWork project, which is being funded by the EU Social Dialogue Programme. The social partners unanimously agreed that any movement on this subject should be based on a collaborative working culture between the employer and the employee.

During the event, Malta Business Bureau President Ms Alison Mizzi emphasised, “Digitalisation is changing the way we work. Being ever present at the office has become an option not a necessity
for several businesses. This opens the door for more flexible work arrangements but does not come without challenges, including stress from the excessive use of digital tools and the greyer delineation between work and private life. We must create more awareness, provide training and adopt proactive management practices that address these challenges.”

The Malta Chamber CEO Dr Marthese Portelli believes that on managing workloads, “It all boils down to mutual trust, synergy and collaboration between employers and employees. We need a
change in mindset on the workplace which is more output driven. Moving away from a 40-hour week, punch-in, punch-out, to a productive KPI system will lead to more clarity and more efficiency.”

The event saw the participation of the main cross-sectoral social partners in Malta. The employers were represented by The Malta Chamber, the Malta Employers Association, and The Malta Chamber of SMEs. The workers’ representatives were represented by the General Workers Union and UHM Voice of the Workers.

Other special guests were invited to share their expertise and experiences on specific topics, namely, Ms Mireille Pellegrini Petit from Thrive Positive who spoke on the psychological impact of excessive use of technology; Dr Lara Pace from Ganado Advocates who presented the legal parameters of surveillance at the workplace; and Mr Chris Busuttil Delbridge from Evolve who shared best practices on implementing positive cultures at the workplace.

The main outcomes of the discussion revolved around the need to promote more positive cultures in companies and implement proactive human resources policies that are centred on flexibility, respect, and trust, in the relationship between employers and employees alike. There was also agreement on the need of continuously creating awareness on the downside effects of excessive use of technology. 

It was agreed that performance monitoring tools could be used to ensure that there is a level playing field amongst all employees in terms of their output and job responsibilities. Company policies should clearly stipulate monitoring policies, which policies must be in full compliance with GDPR requirements.

Finally, and as a separate initiative, The Malta Chamber developed policy guidelines on the Right to Disconnect. The guidelines outline the responsibilities of employers and workers as well as promote recommendations on good management practices and a collaborative company culture. The purpose of the initiative was to create more awareness on the topic of modalities of connecting and disconnecting and encourage companies to incorporate internal policies on the subject matter.

More information on the EU project can be viewed from www.transformwork.eu

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