Thursday 2. December 2021


In times of increasing de-limitation of work: The chances for a European "Right to disconnect”

Statement from the Steering Commitee of the European Sunday Alliance

The pandemic has accelerated existing challenges of digitalisation in the work life, like intensifying work and extending working hours. Moreover, it profoundly touches the question of Sunday protection. Most of us might have realised: Work is increasingly timely and locally unbound. MEP Alex Agius Saliba (S&D/Malta) presented in July 2020 a legislative-initiative draft report on an EU-wide right to disconnect in the European Parliament Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (EMPL Committee) in order to address the challenge of blurring boundaries between work and private life in Europe. The report contains recommendations for a legal act and invites the European Commission to submit a legislative proposal on the right to disconnect.


The European Sunday Alliance supports the report of the European Parliament and trusts that the European Commission will soon put forward a proposal for a directive on a right to disconnect which endorses a common day of rest in the Member States: Regardless of whether a proposal covers the protection of Sundays it offers now more than ever the chance to stop developments of increasing dissolution of boundaries of work and – in our view – it makes it inevitable for lawmakers to reflect on the question of what value we want to give to Sunday protection.


Consultation of the European Commission on a new EU Strategic Framework for Health and Safety at Work: European Sunday Alliance calls for EU action on a right to be disconnected in the EU Member States

As the European Commission consults on a new EU Strategic Framework of Health and Safety at Work for the years 2021-2027, the European Sunday Alliance calls on the European Commission to focus EU action on a right to be disconnected, as a way to prom

Responding to the European Commission’s consultation, the European Sunday Alliance states: “The Covid lockdowns have accelerated trends towards increasing levels of mobile & home working. With the rise of digital working, the fragmentation of working time has further proceeded. Working in the evenings & during weekends is increasingly common and indeed expected by many employers. This increases stress for workers while it affects their work-life balance; and this compromises the health and wellbeing of workers, making them not only sick in the long run but also causing increasingly more often their absence from work due to psychosocial illness for sustained periods of time.

Regrettably, in 1996 the EU working time directive was stripped of a provision to include Sunday as common day of rest for workers because in case C-84/96, when the ECJ found that the Council ‘failed to explain [with regard to the directive,] why Sunday, as a weekly rest of day, is more closely connected with the health and safety of workers than any other day of the week.’

The notion that a weekly rest day nurtures occupational health was NOT disputed by the court. For the sake of occupational health for workers, it is high time that the European Commission tables a proposal for a directive on a right to be disconnected which aligns with article 2 of the Council of Europe's Social Charter which already requires ‘a weekly rest period which shall, as far as possible, coincide with the day recognised by tradition or custom in the country or region concerned as a day of rest.’

According to the European Sunday Alliance, such a common day is indeed indispensable for the wellbeing and hence health of workers: Only during a common day of rest is it possible to pursue volunteer work, civic engagement, joint social, sports or faith-related activities, family time and, more generally, to spend time together. Humans are social beings and their health requires more than individual time off at random moments of the week to spend in social media or alone in front of the TV.

The next Framework should require Eurofound & EU-OSHA to establish research based on these considerations & foresee EU action for a right to be disconnected that includes a common day of rest – as demanded also by the Parliament in recital 5 of its recent legislative initiative report on the topic.”


German Federal Administrative Court prohibitsopening of shops on Sunday

On 11 November, the German Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig delivered a decision prohibiting the opening of shops in business parks on Sunday.


For more information, please click here.

Trade Union fights International Tourist Zones exceptions

The French Trade Union “Fédération des Employés et Cadres Forces Ouvrières" are fighting in against a regulation on exceptions of shop opening on Sundays for so-called International Tourists Zones. For more information on this issue, please click here.

The European Sunday Alliance participated in the public consultation on the review on the Working Time Directive

The European Sunday Alliance participated in the public consultation on the review on the Working Time Directive


The European Commission’s is currently reviewing the Working Time Directive (2003/88/EC) and launched an online public consultation of the Directive. A public consultation is a tool used by the European Commission to gather insights and contributions from all citizens and organisations.


unknownThe purpose of the Working Time Directive is to protect the health and safety of employees by setting down minimum standards, applicable throughout the EU, relating to working time regulations. The Directive applies to minimum periods of daily rest, weekly rest and annual leave, to breaks and maximum weekly working time and to certain aspects of night work and patterns of work.


The European Sunday Alliance participated in the public consultation, as follows:


The European Sunday Alliance is a network of trade unions, employers’ organisations, national Sunday Alliances, civil society organisations and church organisations. Due to this huge variety of organisations the Alliance decided to remain neutral, except on this question: A work-free Sunday and decent working hours are of paramount importance for EU-citizens. Current legislation and practices need to be more protective of the dignity, safety and health of everyone and should more attentively promote the balancing of professional and family/private life. Employment, the creation of jobs and economic competitiveness are the main requirements for Europe. However competitiveness, decent work and a common weekly day of rest go hand in hand: Competitiveness needs innovation, innovation needs creativity and creativity needs recreation! The EU should fulfill its obligation under Art.31 EUCFR and Art.153 TFEU and promote decent working hours, which exclude in general working late evenings, nights, bank holidays and Sundays. Empirical studies prove that non-standard working hours cause a de-synchronisation of the social rhythms, which has a serious negative effect on the health and safety of workers. Unsustainable working time patterns can lead to increased stress and illnesses. People usually work on Sundays or at irregular hours out of financial necessity rather than by choice. Work-free weekends traditionally support the independence of persons from a purely economic-driven lifestyle. Sundays are the reference for the time organisation of state and society. The Directive 94/33/EC acknowledges Sunday as the weekly rest day for young people. It is important to enable families to enjoy a proper family life. In times of growing individualism collective spare time becomes more important. Only a well-protected common weekly day of rest as requested in the European Social Charter enables citizens to enjoy full participation in cultural, sports, social and religious life.

Brussels, 2 March 2015


Download the text in pdf



First European Interest Group WORK-LIFE BALANCE launched

First European Interest Group WORK-LIFE BALANCE launched


3 March 2015

unknown3rd March 2015 – On the very day when the European Day for a Work Free Sunday is celebrated across Europe, at the EU Parliament, and in the presence of MEPs from different political groups, the European Sunday Alliance launched the first European Interest Group on WORK-LIFE BALANCE. For the first time, the interest group  - supported by representatives of politicians, trade unions, business executives, family and sports organisations and representatives of churches and religious communities - brought together 50 people to discuss how to ensure that EU legislation respects and promotes workers' health and promotes a better balance between family and private life and workRead more


Welcome to our new Belgian member

Welcome to the new member “Algemeen Belgisch Vakverbond - Fédération Générale du Travail de Belgique”!


unknownAlgemeen Belgisch Vakverbond - Fédération Générale du Travail de Belgique (ABVV-FGTB) is a socialist trade union with a social democratic philosophy and ideology. Its basic principles are: equality, justice, democracy and solidarity.

It has more than 1,5 million affiliates and is one of the 3 officially as representative recognized trade union confederations in Belgium.

It’s one of the founding members of the European Trade Unions Confederation (ETUC), as well as the International trade Unions Confederation (ITUC). On the international level, ABVV-FGTB is involved in a growing number of campaigns with other social movements (e.g. Climate Coalition).



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Find us in your country

Legal victory for the protection of a work-free Sunday

Frankfurt sales forbidden by courts

The German alliance for a Free Sunday (which includes the ver.di trade union and the Catholic Employees Movement, KAB) has sued the city of Frankfurt, which had approved three Sunday sales. The courts confirmed the view of those in favour of a work-free Sunday and the sales were forbidden.

GERMANY: No Sunday shopping at Munich jubilee celebrations

18 May 2016

A judgement by the Bavarian Administrative Court declared that shops in the central area of Munich may not open on Sunday during the festival celebrating the foundation of the city.



FRANCE: French win 'right to disconnect' from out-of-hours work emails

9 January 2017

In France, employees will be guaranteed a right to disconnect and freedom from checking emails outside normal working hours.



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