Should we have the right to disconnect from our work?

According to an article in The Ottawa Citizen, North Americans are raising concerns about the lack of a right-to-disconnect law that would free workers from being available on their phones, email, and increasing use of business messaging apps, even after work hours have ended.

This issue is gaining more attention following a New York Councilman saying last week that he was proposing a law to make it illegal to force employees to access “work-related electronic communications” from home, save for emergency situations and other important exceptions. Under this proposed law, “companies would have to draft written policies spelling out the hours of work and time off, and employers would not be allowed to threaten penalties against anyone who refused to check their email or work-related social networks off-hours.”

New York isn’t the only region with this idea. The federal government in France enacted legislation to deal with this issue, and Quebec MPP Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois also tabled a private member’s bill last week to “ensure that employee rest periods are respected by requiring employers to adopt an after-hours disconnection policy.” In the Quebec bill, proposed fines for companies that violate the rule would range from $1,000 to $30,000.

In announcing his bill, Nadeau-Dubois explained that, “For my parents’ generation, when you were leaving the office, you were actually leaving the office. It’s not true for my generation anymore. When you leave work, you still have to work because you have emails from your boss or colleague. The separation between professional life and private life is disappearing.”

This issue is especially pressing in a time when messaging communications are more present than ever across various industries. For example, Slack now has nine million weekly active users across 100 countries. That’s nine million people who might feel pressured to work after hours. Business leaders disagree about the benefits of disconnecting – but its clear that this is a theme that will concern business culture for some time.

Source: ottawacitizen.com – Right-to-disconnect talk picks up as popularity of workplace messaging apps rises
Published: March 27, 2018