Social dialogue on remote work at Stellantis
Founded in 2021 after a merger between Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) and the French PSA (Peugeot Société Anonyme) Group, Global Deal partner Stellantis is a sustainable mobility tech company employing over 300,000 employees globally.
When COVID-19 first appeared and lockdown measures were introduced in 2020, many firms struggled to adapt to teleworking. For Stellantis, however, COVID-19 provided the impetus to expand the firm’s telework policy, in existence since 2014. The company’s longstanding commitment to social dialogue has allowed management and workers to develop strategies that aim to maximise the benefits of working from home.
According to the European Framework Agreement on Telework, telework is 'a form of organising and/or performing work, using information technology, in the context of an employment contract/relationship, where work that could be performed at the employer’s premises is carried out away from those premises on a regular basis.'
Stellantis’ predecessor company, the PSA Group, began experimenting with teleworking as early as 2014 when they introduced voluntary telework arrangements.
In response to these arrangements, ‘legacy’ managers raised concerns that workers might become less involved if they were not in the office or that remote work could impede team communication.
Some of these issues were assuaged in 2017 when the PSA Group negotiated its first collective agreement including a provision for telework:
- The agreement allowed for one fixed telework day per week.
- Each worker was also provided with another 25 teleworks days per year to be distributed flexibly.
By January 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic arrived, the PSA Group already had 4,000 workers regularly engaged in some form of telework.
When the COVID-19 pandemic arrived, both PSA and FCA shifted their entire non-manufacturing workforce complements to remote work arrangements, using similar protocols and practices experimented with since 2014.
However, with the expansion of telework, the company found that it needed to better support management and workers in the transition – and expand access by providing technology like video cameras to facilitate online collaboration. This realisation was achieved through social dialogue and a working group was later established to facilitate continued discourse.
[At] the start of the pandemic, we decided to immediately discuss and define with unions what [would] be the new way of working for our company.
The group discussed short-term challenges as well as longer-term company-wide goals that would outlast the pandemic arrangements. These included the desire to move the company towards a hybrid work arrangement of 70% remote work and 30% in-person work as a permanent feature for non-manufacturing workers at Stellantis.
The company maintains that the introduction of telework has fuelled a better work-life balance for employees and that this has been achieved without negatively affecting firm efficiency.
Furthermore, to help mitigate against poor work-life balances and promote workers’ mental health, the company is – for now – committed to maintaining 30% of total working time as in-person. The telework working group has also developed guidance on effective telework strategies.
Beyond Stellantis, the increase in telework has encouraged social partners across Europe to use social dialogue to develop guidance on remote work. For example, the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) and European employers have recently signed a joint social dialogue work programme for 2022-24 which addresses telework and the right to disconnect.
Stellantis’ efforts remain focused predominantly on its own workforce, but when it comes to broader regulation and social dialogue, Stellantis, as a leader in telework, has regularly been consulted about its company policies and practices.
Social dialogue can help meet material needs (e.g. technology to facilitate online collaboration) and change mindsets through open conversations about challenges and opportunities.
Social dialogue can build trust between actors. Without workers in the office every day, managers need to be able to trust that workers are doing their jobs and workers need to know they are still part of a team that supports them in their job. Social dialogue can help ensure that all parties make these commitments.
Social dialogue can help employers and employees cope with unexpected events such as the COVID-19 pandemic in the case of Stellantis.
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