EU health & safety strategy must address psychosocial risks
Trade unions and NGOs demand a directive on psychosocial risks in feedback to EU Commission Roadmap towards a new EU Strategic Framework on Health and Safety at Work (2021-2027).
Eurocadres is not alone in demanding that an upcoming Strategic Framework on Health and Safety at Work (2021-2027) must include a directive on work organisation and addressing psychosocial risks violence and harassment.
Following the end of the feedback period, running until 26 November 2020, several contributions address the need to step up the fight against the stress epidemic.
–Actions to combat the stress epidemic must be at the very heart of the upcoming strategic framework and the most central piece must be a directive on the issue, says Martin Jefflén, Eurocadres' President.
Key trade union support for directive
In a feedback contribution to the Commission, the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) stresses that "Europe should have a dedicated Directive in the area of Psychosocial Risks (PSR) in the workplace. The experience of the patchy implementation of the 2004 autonomous framework agreement on work-related stress has demonstrated the need for legally binding requirements in the wider field of PSR. One quarter of Europeans suffer from work-related stress.".
ETUC stresses that "Europe should have a dedicated Directive in the area of Psychosocial Risks (PSR) in the workplace.
The campaign EndStress.EU has been jointly set up by Eurocadres and ETUC, and is advocating for said directive. Another European initiative getting behind the call for a legislative initiative on the issue is the European Mental Health Alliance – Employment & Work which among its members can count for example MHE (Mental Health Europe), EuroHealthNet, EPHA (European Public Health Alliance) and AEIP (the European Association of Paritarian Institutions). In their contribution the alliance writes that the the new framework should "Explore options to further elaborate on the introduction of relevant legal instruments (e.g. EU Directive) on addressing psychosocial risks at workplaces".
Managers particularly affected
The Eurocadres contribution points to the especially dire stress situation for managers, "in particular taking into account that managers are in most cases the ones supposed to be carrying out the risk management" and pointing to several statistics supporting this reality:
- "61% of female managers have sleep problems.
- 20% of all managers experience anxiety – the highest share of all occupations.
- Managers experience the highest level of work-life balance conflicts.
- Managers and professionals also have the highest work intensity and longest working days."
Possibly promising outlook
In a recent fact-finding seminar of cross-sectoral European social partners, with participation of representatives of the European Commission, the participants learned that the Commission foresees that psychosocial risks will be a key component of the upcoming strategy.
the Commission foresees that psychosocial risks will be a key component of the upcoming strategy
Work-related stress is part already of the current Strategic Framework on Health and Safety at Work with several actions to improve the situation.
–Even if psychosocial risks would be put in the very centre of the strategic framework, the experiences of the last decades with numerous guidelines, toolkits, best practices and campaigns show that for progress to be made, we need legislation, says Martin Jefflén, Eurocadres.
Legislation is what makes a difference
In the ESENER-3 study, carried out by the European Agency for Occupational Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA), the results were crystal clear about what is the main driver for employers to address health and safety. 89,2 percent of the employers responding pointed to "fulfilling a legal obligation" as the main reason for why they address health and safety in their workplace.
89,2 percent of the employers responding pointed to "fulfilling a legal obligation" as the main reason for why they address health and safety in their workplace.
Eurocadres in the feedback response refers to this research and comments with the following: "Legislation is an immensely important driver in OSH. And yet, only a few member states have clear legislation about psychosocial risks."