New realities of labour in the Pan-European region: remote work challenge and its regulations

The PERC in cooperation with the FES Competence Centre – Future of Work organised two-day conference on challenges teleworking and evolution of regulation of this type of work organisation.

Well before the current pandemic, teleworking was growing fast, and different national and supranational regulative means were developed. It was, however, a narrow niche, for very few workers, either in specific sectors, or in specific situations. As a pattern, telework regulations were moved by workers and their representatives for ensuring better balancing between work and private life. Lockdowns changed these realities. Teleworking became an obligation and a norm for many. That prompted both employers and unions to urgently agreeing set of rules to ensure continuation of work process and preventing conflicts.

Victor Hugo Ricco, Senior Specialist on Workers Activities at the Bureau for Workers Activities of the ILO presented the guidance on teleworking in the context of COVID-19, based on the jurisprudence of the ILO’s ILS Supervisory Bodies, different resources that could help the debate for the demand of international regulations, examples of development of national legislations and frameworks, specific instruments to address interests and concerns of specific categories of workers, existing sectoral approaches and agreements.

Nicola Countouris, Director of ETUI Research Department, focused on the risks of the potential impact of remote work, as the ‘new normal’, on employment relations, specifically the likely emergence of new forms of ‘contractual distancing’ between the firm and its ‘remote’ workforce and expansion of business models that reclassify hired workers into self-employed contractors.

Paapa Danquah, ITUC Legal officer, presented the ITUC legal guide on telework, Juliane Bir, Head of Policy of the ETUC introduced European framework agreement and other applicable EU mechanisms, outlining the work the ETUC has been pushing through European Social dialog (e.g. on digitalisation, on the right to disconnect), Maureen Hick, Director, UNI-Europa Finance, introduced UNI 10 key principles of telework and recent examples in the agreements in financial sector.

Eckhard Voss, wmp consult, presented the first results from research project on collective bargaining for PSI/EPSU: Telework requirements from the perspective of public service workers, focusing on analysis of how collective agreements of different levels could fill the existing regulation gaps – both on international and national levels.

Susan Flocken, European Director of the European Trade Union Committee for Education, introduced recent developments and existing challenges in the education sector, both in terms of distance education and role of teachers in lockdown periods and in further acceleration of privatisation and commercialisation of education due to expansion of technologies.

Brigitta Zsura, Vice-President of the PERC Women’s committee from LIGA-Hungary, introduced specific gender dimension, work-life balance challenges, as well as the imperative to address growing work and domestic violence by ratifying ILO Convention 190 and implementing its principles in practice. PERC women committee is also raising awareness as concerns the situation of vulnerable groups- migrants, informal economy workers, domestic workers, etc. who cannot have access to digitalization and risk to be left behind.

Examples of national regulations and developments were presented by participants from Croatia, Montenegro, Russia and other countries. The sharing of experiences will continue, also in cooperation between the PERC and FES Competence Centre – Future of Work.

First day of the conference - 15 April 2021

Second day of the conference - 16 April 2021

Victor Hugo Ricco, ILO ACTRAV
Juliane Bir, ETUC
Maureen Hick, UNI Europa Finances
Eckhard Voss, wmp consult
Brigita Zsura, PERC Women Committee