Ensure workload control and a work-life balance!

Teachers are never off - The Right to Disconnect

While teaching has long been acknowledged as a demanding profession, too often, the true extent of the workload remains hidden from public view. With Europe currently facing a sharp teacher shortage, high workloads and unsustainable work-life balance are central issues for recruiting and retaining qualified teachers. This month, the ETUCE campaign Make Teaching Attractive delves into the critical issues in ensuring workload control and promoting work-life balance for education staff at all levels, shedding light on these unseen aspects of the teaching profession and advocates for measures to alleviate the strain on teachers.

The rise of digital tools, accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, has blurred the boundaries between professional and personal life for many educators. While the integration of technology offers flexibility, it also presents challenges in maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

Teachers’ inability to disconnect digitally from their jobs creates an imbalance in their professional and private lives, thus making teaching unsustainable and resulting in poor retention rates. 

As underlined in the ETUCE study on the opportunities and challenges for the education sector in the digital era (2021), education trade unions have succeeded in taking steps forward in some countries. For instance, Italy established the right to disconnect for education workers in the last national collective agreement and increased awareness about the significant adverse effects of work-related stress in the education sector. Besides, some federal states in Germany concluded service and work agreements as a result of negotiations on the use of digital equipment and digital education tools, including, among others, questions of work-life balance. 

ETUCE underlines that efforts must be made to tackle these psychosocial hazards, especially considering that these negative trends have been worsened by the COVID-19 crisis. While the announced EU Commission’s legislative measure on the right to disconnect remains pending, ETUCE demands clear policies and legislation at the national and European levels to safeguard educators’ off-duty time and prevent these psychosocial hazards.

Throughout April, the ETUCE campaign invites education trade unions, education trade union policymakers, and education stakeholders to engage in discussions and initiatives aimed at prioritising workload control and promoting work-life balance to make teaching a more attractive and fulfilling career choice for current and future generations.