The right to digital disconnection is the employees’ right not to be connected to any digital devices for professional purposes during rest periods and holidays. It means that employees have the right not to answer calls, video calls, emails, WhatsApps or any other type of communication, nor be available during rest times, paid leaves and holidays.
The right to digital disconnection is highly protected, as directly related to the right to privacy and proper work-life balance.
Hence, to ensure it, Spanish legislation establishes the obligation for companies to draw up an internal digital disconnection policy that:
- Defines the modalities for exercising the right to disconnection,
Trains and sets awareness-raising actions for staff on the reasonable use of technological tools.
- Article 88 of Organic Law 3/2018 of 5 December on the Protection of Personal Data and the guarantee of digital rights initially incorporated the right to digital disconnection. Article 18.2 of Law 10/2021, of 9 July, on remote work, has also incorporated it, insofar as it states:
The company, after hearing the employees’ legal representation, shall draw up an internal policy aimed at employees, including those management positions, defining the modalities for exercising the right to disconnection and training and awareness-raising actions for staff on reasonable use of technological tools that avoid the risk of computer fatigue. In particular, the right to digital disconnection will be preserved in cases of total or partial remote work, as well as at the employee’s home that is in connection with the use of technological tools for work purposes.
In Spain, the Labour Inspectorate is asking companies to present their digital disconnection policies.
Considerations to draft a digital disconnection policy
- If there is an employees’ legal representation, the policy must be drawn up jointly by the company and this representation.
- It should set out the mechanisms for exercising the right to digital disconnection, specifying the periods during which the digital disconnection will apply, which will coincide with the duration of daily and weekly breaks, paid leaves and holidays.
- Training and awareness-raising actions should be defined to train employees in using digital media.
The lack of a digital disconnection policy can lead to sanctions by the Labour and Social Security Inspectorate and/or complaints from employees.
If your company requires advice on the drafting of a digital disconnection policy,
This article is not considered legal advice