Malta | Social partners discuss the Right to Disconnect based on a collaborative working culture

Key topic from the EU Autonomous Framework Agreement on Digitalisation agreed by EU cross-sectoral social partners.

Last Friday, The Malta Chamber and the Malta Business Bureau organised a webinar discussing key topics from the EU autonomous framework agreement on digitalisation. The event was organised in association with the General Workers Union as part of the EU TransFormWork project, which is being funded by the EU Social Dialogue Programme. The social partners unanimously agreed that any movement on this subject should be based on a collaborative working culture between the employer and the employee.

During the event, Malta Business Bureau President Ms Alison Mizzi emphasised, “Digitalisation is changing the way we work. Being ever present at the office has become an option not a necessity for several businesses. This opens the door for more flexible work arrangements but does not come without challenges, including stress from the excessive use of digital tools and the greyer delineation between work and private life. We must create more awareness, provide training and adopt proactive management practices that address these challenges.”

Malta Chamber CEO Dr Marthese Portelli believes that on managing workloads, “It all boils down to mutual trust, synergy and collaboration between employers and employees. We need a change in mindset on the workplace which is more output driven. Moving away from a 40-hour week, punch-in, punch-out, to a productive KPI system will lead to more clarity and more efficiency.”

The event saw the participation of the main cross-sectoral social partners in Malta. The employers were represented by The Malta Chamber, the Malta Employers Association, and the Malta Chamber of SMEs. The workers’ representatives were represented by the General Workers Union and UHM Voice of the Workers.

Other special guests were invited to share their expertise and experiences on specific topics, namely, Ms Mireille Pellegrini Petit from Thrive Positive who spoke on the psychological impact of excessive use of technology; Dr Lara Pace from Ganado Advocates who presented the legal parameters of surveillance at the workplace; and Mr Chris Busuttil Delbridge from Evolve who shared best practices on implementing positive cultures at the workplace.

The main outcomes of the discussion revolved around the need to promote more positive cultures in companies and implement proactive human resources policies that are centred on flexibility, respect, and trust, in the relationship between employers and employees.

There was also agreement on the need of continuously creating awareness on the downside effects of excessive use of technology and the need for training to disconnect from digital tools during leisure time.

It was agreed that monitoring and surveillance should only go as far as what is needed for the purpose of securing the work environment. Employees should be made aware when surveillance takes place in full compliance with GDPR requirements.

There were different views on aspects of legislation, between the need for specific legislation on the Right to disconnect or reviewing existent legislations such as the Working Time Directive and evaluate whether it needs to be refined to the fast-evolving digital realities. Nonetheless, it was stated that any future legislation should not be overly prescriptive and avoids a one-size fits all solution, given diverse conditions applicable to companies of different sizes and operating in different economic sectors.

During the event, The Malta Chamber presented policy guidelines on the Right to Disconnect for businesses. The event also included a presentation on the EU Autonomous Framework Agreement on Digitalisation and the Transformwork Project.

More information on the EU project can be viewed from

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