On October 17, the European Commission published its annual work programme of its term for 2024. The Steering Committee of the European Sunday Alliance regrets that it features no social initiative to further protect synchronised resting time for workers and citizens - despite evidence of a positive social and economic impact it could have
According to the work programme, an objective of the European Commission for 2024 is to “ensure social fairness, inclusion and prosperity” and to “protect our citizens and our values”.
The Steering Committee of the European Sunday Alliance regrets that this does not translate into a concrete new EU initiative to further protect synchronised resting time for workers and citizens. It stresses that a weekly day of synchronised day of rest would bring tangible, visible and cherished improvements to the lives of citizens across Europe, increase their health and well-being, and also contribute to a sustainable economic growth for business and firms.
The Steering Committee of the European Sunday Alliance underlines:
- much time has been lost during which, in the past, citizens and families used to pursue volunteer work, civic engagement, joint social, sports or faith-related activities, care and domestic responsibilities and, generally, to spend time together. The negative impact that this development has been having on social cohesion and social inclusion should not be underestimated.
- in the context of digitalisation, work-life balance has been compromised for many workers and psychological stress has increased due to rising pressure to be permanently available and deliver for the job, yielding burn-out, cardiovascular disease or musculoskeletal disorders and thus illness and absenteeism from work. According to the EU’s Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA), in Europe stress contributes to around 50% of all lost working days, translating into “cost[s] to businesses and society [which] are significant and run into billions of euros at a national level.” Healthy workplaces are indispensable for the workers and for the employers alike. A synchronised day to switch off would do good in this respect.
- also beyond the direct advantage of increased presenteeism at work, a better work-life balance and manageable stress levels for workers would bring further benefits to the global competitiveness of Europe’s firms and business in the longer run: only in healthy working conditions and work environments, which also give space to recreation, can workers be creative, involved and performing to help drive innovation in their industries and sectors. Competitiveness needs innovation, innovation needs creativity, and creativity needs recreation.
The Steering Committee of the European Sunday alliance calls on the European Commission to further the EU’s social agenda by means of an initiative to promote a 24-hour uninterrupted rest period for workers, synchronised as a common day of professional rest.
The full work programme of the European Commission for 2024 is available here.