Far-reaching measures called for

SW – 07/2022

On 5 July, the European Parliament adopted a Resolution on mental health in the digital world of work with 501 votes in favour, 47 against and 85 abstentions. Members of Parliament (MEPs) call for the issue to be addressed through an EU mental health strategy and a European care strategy, complemented by national action plans. Mental health should be given the same priority as physical health. There is a lack of financial resources and qualified staff.


MEPs point to the opportunities that digitisation can create, for example, for the employment of people with disabilities in the open labour market. Employers are encouraged to ensure accessibility and reasonable accommodation for work-related digital environments to secure equal working conditions for people with disabilities, including those with mental health problems.

A directive setting minimum standards and conditions to ensure the effective exercise of a right to disconnect is also called for. This is particularly necessary for workers in atypical forms of employment. At the same time, employers are called upon to issue clear and transparent regulations on working from home and to work towards respecting working hours.

On the right to disconnect, the European Commission had initially seen the social partners as having a duty of care in the EU Strategic Framework for Health and Safety at Work 2021-2027. They have now included the topic in their Work programme 2022-24. The 2002 framework agreement on telework is to be revised and submitted to the European Council for adoption as a legally binding agreement in the form of a directive.

Occupational safety and health

The MEPs have adhered to the very far-reaching demands of the responsible "Committee on Employment and Social Affairs" of the European Parliament on occupational disease law. MEPs call for revision of the 2003 Recommendation on the European Schedule of Occupational Diseases. Work-related mental disorders, especially depression, so-called burn-outs, anxiety and stress are to be added to the list. In addition, the recommendation is to be transformed into a directive with a minimum schedule of occupational diseases as well as minimum requirements for their recognition and the compensation of those affected.

While such a legislative initiative would interfere with the freedom of the Member States to design their social security systems, the mechanisms for the prevention of psychosocial disorders and for the reintegration of those affected, which are also called for, are to be welcomed, in principle.

The revision of Directive 89/654/EEC on the minimum safety and health requirements for the workplace and Directive 90/270/EEC on the safety and health of workers using visual display units, as called for by MEPs, would also be welcome. The European Commission has initiated the overdue modernisation of both directives in the EU Strategic Framework by 2023.


The European Parliament proposes to designate 2023 as the EU Year of Mental Health in order to to draw attention to and raise awareness of the issue. With regard to mental health at work, the European Commission has announced a non-legislative initiative at EU level in the EU Strategic Framework. Emerging issues related to mental health in the workforce will be assessed and guidelines for action will be presented by 2022.