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The Slovenian Presidency of the EU Council organised a high-level conference dedicated to the topic “Quality of Work, Quality of Life”.

Flexible working arrangements – social partners perspectives

Social partners were invited to elaborate on what flexible working arrangements would mean to employers and workers.

For the employers, Ceemet’s Director General Delphine Rudelli of the Metal, Engineering and Technology-based (MET) industries took the floor looking into the key role social partners play in making flexible working a success for all.

Social partners – close to the workplace

In her opening statement, the Ceemet Director General highlighted that the notion of ‘quality of work’ encompasses many elements and this is the reason why social partners should take the lead and negotiate agreements as close as possible to the realities of the companies and the employees. The negotiations could take place at sectoral, regional and even local level in order to provide more efficient, innovative and tailored solutions to the actual needs of both actors.

Social partnership – capacity to adapt

The twin transition, and in particular the digital transition, is impacting work organisation. The growing number of collective agreements bear witness to the fact that social partners are rising to the challenges and find agreements on e.g. telework and remote work.

Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic pushed social partnership to new heights. It brought social partners closer together, showing that challenges can often be better tackled jointly and demanded social partners to come up with innovative solutions to keep economies operating.

In many Member States, sectoral collective agreements were signed very quickly after the lockdowns were brought into force, offering flexible measures to ensure employees could continue working in a safe environment adapted to the production methods of the companies.

Flexible working arrangements – other actors for its success

Where social partners have to adapt to the new reality of work and to negotiate flexible working conditions adapted to this new situation, the success of flexible working arrangements does not solely depend on them.

Member States have to put in place a business-friendly environment to encourage job creation. In a context of recovery, governments need to make sure that social partners have the room to negotiate flexible working arrangements and put them in place making sure that enough means are attributed to ensure employers can provide quality work.

And the European Commission from its end had to support capacity-building initiatives in Member States where social partnership is not developed enough. Strong social partnership is fundamental for societal and industrial success.

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High-Level Conference "Quality of Work for Quality of Life" programme
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