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Are you Ignoring my Email

Do you expected your employees to answer email outside working hours?

Monday 30th of January 2017 10:00

France has taken a step to alleviate work-related stress with a new law which came into effect on 1st January to give workers the legal right to ignore work emails during their time off. It is designed to encourage staff to take a proper break from work and to escape the permanent connection culture of the modern workplace, driven by technological advances of mobile phones and other devices. The legislation affects businesses with more than 50 employees and, whilst it does not have effect in this country, it does serve up some food for thought for employers on this side of the Channel.

Employers all over the world should always take the health and wellbeing of workers seriously, underlined by the fact that employees in this country have the legal right to daily and weekly rest breaks and 5.6 weeks of holiday. This French law enforces the importance of being able to “switch off” at any time when an employee is “away from work” which should be a consideration for all employers to protect the health of their workers. A barrage of work-related emails can increase stress levels for employees whilst they are on their “down-time” so it may be a thought for UK employers to take some steps in the direction of the French.

A blanket ban might be a step too far for some employers, especially those in customer driven sectors, but senior managers could think about what they can do to limit out of hours activity; for example, they should be mindful not to send instructions to employees after the working day ends, or over the weekend. Employers could introduce procedures that encourage employees to take a proper break during their annual leave. For example, some organisations apply restrictions preventing individual employees from accessing their inboxes remotely during holidays lasting two weeks or more, to encourage them to take a complete break.

Even though blanket ‘right to disconnect’ employment rights are unlikely to be introduced for UK workers, employers should not ignore the issues that can arise from excessive use of digital devices. Where possible, they should take proactive steps to encourage all employees to adopt a healthy lifestyle and promote work-life balance”

 

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