LONDON: After months of working from home, more than 150,000 people have called on the UK government to ban out-of-hours emails by introducing a “right to disconnect” for employees outside working hours.
The workers, represented by a trade union called Prospect, launched the campaign after the Republic of Ireland issued a decision in April which gives employees the right to not respond to messages, calls or emails outside of work hours.
The “right to disconnect” law was introduced in France four years ago and has been in effect ever since.
Banning out-of-hours emails would mean that bosses cannot routinely email employees after their work day is finished. Instead, any emails sent at these times could be automatically deleted to stop employees from continuously checking their emails.
Although saving time on commute, remote working and working from home have increased the total hours worked per day. The UK Office for National Statistics found that a person working from home did an average of six hours of extra unpaid overtime per week.
Working from home has also made it difficult to switch off and to separate professional and personal life, with many citing increased stress, compromised mental health, and risk of burnout.
One member of Prospect stated: “I enjoy working from home but because I have no change of environment it can be hard to forget about work tasks.” Another added: “I feel like I am living from work rather than working from home.”
The move, if approved by the UK Employment bill, could redraw the blurred lines between work and home and possibly increase productivity while reducing the risk of burnout.