After-Work Emails Banned To Prevent Work-Related Illness Should Britain Follow Suit?
We all know the feeling – you are about to tuck into your tasty dinner or have a long soak in the bath and suddenly your phone beeps. It’s work so you decide to take the call or send a quick reply before you continue to wind down.
2 hours later…. and you are still trying to sort out whatever issue you have been presented with. Your dinner or bath have gone cold you have no time to talk to family and friends and already it’s for bed so that you can prepare yourself to face the next morning’s early start.
BAuA the national institute for occupational health and safety have found that this type of programming of working in your free time makes employees more likely to develop stress burnout and an inability to switch off which in turn results to an increase in sick days. A recent report by the institution showed an increase of more than 40 percent of sick days caused by psychological problems. Some companies have started to take this information on board particularly in Germany and France.
Some of Germany’s biggest companies such as German auto giant Volkswagen have implemented strategies to safeguard employee health. For example Volkswagen have enforced a daily period of work-emails which means that it is not possible for them to receive any emails to work phones between the hours of 6:15pm and 7:00am.
Their competitors BMW have also developed new systems such as allowing tasks to be carried out offsite and outside normal hours. For example an hour’s time spent responding to emails equates to an hour’s overtime. The only problem with this however is that it is founded upon the basis of trust and it makes it extremely easy for employees to lie about what and how much they have been doing.
Daimler a Mercedez-Benz manufacturer has employed “absence assistants”. This means that when an employee is on holiday someone is there to delete their emails and pass a client on to a co-worker. That way they do not have such an enormous work-load to catch up on when they return.
Deutshe Telekom employees are no longer expected to be reachable outside work hours which is an idea France Telecom have now also adopted. additionally France have introduced a “right to unplug” in technology and consultancy sectors which means workers are obliged to leave their work phones and portable devices at the office door to ensure that no work continues in free time.
IG Metall one of Europe’s biggest unions argues that workforces need enforceable legislation because although the notion of a “right to unplug” has been injected not everyone is going to follow suit. Union official Christiane Benner stated that with the increase of electronic devices in today’s culture regulations are needed.
The German Labour Ministry have also taken onboard the necessity to protect employee welfare and have stated that employees can not be contacted outside of work hours unless there is an exceptional circumstance to justify it.
Google recently ran a trial in one of its Ireland offices where it collected employee smartphones at the end of the day to make sure they couldn’t be bothered by work email when they went home. As a result they found that their workforce were happier and more productive the next day.
As reports prove the amount of sick days are increasing due to work-related illness and with recent media in Britain targeting establishments like the NHS and social work for allowing their staff to become over-stressed and over-worked ultimately producing a disintegration of effective service the question is raised as to whether Britain should follow suit and ban after-work contact so that employees can switch off and have time to relax.
If you have suffered from work-related illness contact one of our advisors now to see if you are entitled to compensation!