Industrial relations

Regulations to address work–life balance in digital flexible working arrangements

02 Červenec 2020
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  • Telework and ICT-based mobile work (TICTM) can help to improve the work–life balance of employees, but it also has disadvantages. For example, existing limits on working hours and rest periods included in the European Working Time Directive (2003/88/EC) are more difficult to enforce in TICTM arrangements.
  • Recording the working time of TICTM workers can be challenging; however, it is important because such workers are more vulnerable to working long hours. Only a few European countries have legislation that covers this issue specifically.
  • National-level regulations for TICTM workers generally focus on promoting the benefits of remote working rather than protecting workers against possible negative effects on work–life balance and health. Only Belgium, France, Italy and Spain have legislation that includes the right to disconnect.
  • National-level regulations relating to the work–life balance of TICTM workers vary in content and coverage. An EU-level initiative could be developed to protect the work–life balance and health of workers, and to ensure fairer competition.
  • It is estimated that teleworking might be the normal form of work for at least 30% of the working population in Europe during the COVID-19 crisis. The findings in this report may provide a foundation to improve future teleworking and other flexible working time arrangements.


Developments in information and communication technology (ICT) have been among the key drivers of change in working life over the past two decades. Specifically, telework and ICT-based mobile work (TICTM) exemplifies how digital technology has led to more flexible workplace and working time practices. However, the ability to work anywhere and at any time can lead to greater work intensification, competition and work-on-demand. If this is not explicitly addressed, it threatens to override the advantages that ICT-based flexible working brings to work–life balance. As part of Eurofound’s extensive research into the impact of TICTM on working conditions and on work–life balance, this report aims to provide policymakers with ways to address new challenges in the world of work and to serve as a reference for future initiatives in relation to digitalisation, working time and work–life balance.

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    Regulations to address work–life balance in digital flexible working arrangements

    Cite this publication as: 
    Eurofound (2020), Regulations to address work–life balance in digital flexible working arrangements, New forms of employment series, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg.
  • Tables and graphs


    • Table 1: Legislation governing the recording of working time for teleworkers and remote workers


    • Figure 1: Share of workers with flexitime schedules and share of workers who undertake TICTM
    • Figure 2: Share of workers undertaking TICTM and reporting a poor work–life balance (with and without children)
    • Figure 3: Share of workers in the EU27 and the UK undertaking TICTM and working in free time (at least several times a month)
    • Figure 4: Legislation and agreements linking TICTM and work–life balance
    • Figure 5: Presence and nature of legislation on TICTM and its link to work–life balance
    • Figure 6: Coverage of regulations that include TICTM (linked to work–life balance)
    • Figure 7: Presence of legislation to record and monitor the working time of remote workers, 2019

Výzkumy, které byly provedeny před vystoupením Spojeného království z Evropské unie dne 31. ledna 2020 a následně zveřejněny, mohou obsahovat údaje vztahující se k 28 členským státům EU. Po uvedeném datu zohledňují výzkumy pouze 27 členských států EU (EU-28 bez Spojeného království), není-li uvedeno jinak.

Tato zpráva předkládá výsledky výzkumu provedeného před výskytem onemocnění COVID-19 v Evropě v únoru 2020. Z tohoto důvodu výsledky pandemii COVID-19 nezohledňují.

Part of the series

  • New forms of employment

    This series reports on the new forms of employment emerging across Europe that are driven by societal, economic and technological developments and are different from traditional standard or non-standard employment in a number of ways. This series explores what characterises these new employment forms and what implications they have for working conditions and the labour market.

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