Have you ever gotten a text message or e-mail from your boss at 9 p.m. or, worse, during the weekend or your day off?
If House Bill No. 4721 ever becomes a law, you would have the right to ignore messages beyond your normal working hours.
The measure, authored by Quezon City Representative Winston Castelo, gives employees the “right to disconnect from work-related electronic communications after hours.”
A similar law was recently passed in France establishing workers’ “right to disconnect.” It requires companies with more than 50 employees to establish hours when staff should not send or answer emails to make sure employees are fairly paid for work and do not burn out by protecting their private time.
Under Castelo’s bill, employees should be allowed to spend uninterrupted time after work hours to rest, recover from fatigue, or be with their families, he said.
While digital communications have paved the way for 24/7 connectivity and boosted businesses, Castelo noted “it has also created a problem of undeclared labor as employees are forced to work, although indirectly, beyond work hours responding to e-mails, text messages and calls on mobile phones.”
Responding to e-mails and text messages beyond office hours can add to stress and robs employees of the time they need to rest and attend to personal and family matters, he said.
"It can lead to burnout or the physical, psychological, and emotional distress caused by a total inability to rest and a diminished balance between work and family," he said, citing, studies in other countries.
"Because employees are expected to respond to emails and text messages after office hours, they are not able to separate themselves from work even when they are at home when they are supposed to be recovering,” he added.
The bill proposes amendments to the Labor Code by stating that employees may not be reprimanded, punished or subjected to disciplinary action should they disregard an electronic communication sent after work hours.
The bill also requires employers to establish, as part of their policies, the hours when employees are not supposed to send or answer work-related e-mails, text messages or mobile-phone calls.
Some exemptions may be allowed subject to the rules and regulations the Department of Labor and Employment is tasked to promulgate.
NEWS COURTESY OF InterAksyon.com