Recent research has discovered that almost two-thirds of employees are in favour of a ‘right to disconnect’. But experts believe that legislation alone will fail to have the desired impact.
The survey of 1050 UK adults found that 60% were in favour of new legislation that will put limitations on the amount of workplace communication outside of office hours. More than 55% of those polled also stated it was unacceptable for employers to expect employees to check for work-related communications outside of their working hours.
In addition to this, 57% believed it was unacceptable to be expected to send out of hours communication whilst 58% believed the same in regards to responding.
The survey also questioned employees on how they react to after-hours communication. This uncovered that over two thirds (67%) of UK adults involved in the survey currently read or respond to communications they receive outside of their working hours. This figure is including 43% of adults who stated they check work-related communications and 40% who reply to them out of hours.
Furthermore, just over a third of respondents (34%) reported that they proactively sent work-related communications out of hours whilst just 30% of employees involved in the survey stated they did not communicate with work outside of their working hours.
Despite the support from UK adults for a right to disconnect law to be implemented, the Head of public policy at the CIPD, Ben Willmott, stated that a legal right to disconnect for employees likely would fail to have the intended impact and would not address the reasons people feel they cannot switch off from work alone.
Citing reasons such as heavy workloads, lack of support and unreasonable management, Willmott stated “Simply giving the legal right to choose not to respond to calls, emails or other digital communication outside of working hours won’t resolve these issues or necessarily improve wellbeing.” He continued, “Employers should make it clear that employees don’t have to respond to digital communications outside working hours unless it suits them.”
Willmott highlighted the need for managers to provide staff with achievable objectives and offer the opportunity to maximize flexible working to help staff balance work and home pressures.
The report also found a trend of younger workers believing out of hours contact was ‘normal’ with 56% of 16-34-year-olds stating they believe this, whilst only 34% of workers 35-75-year-olds indicated this is their belief.
Head of employment law at Blacks Solicitors, Paul Kelly stated that employers should review their procedures for home working and assess their own expectations of employees when it comes to dealing with workplace issues outside of work hours. “While we may not yet have a right to disconnect in the UK, it is always good practice to make sure that the demands of the employer, even in these strange times, do not jeopardise the health of its workforce” Kelly stated.
Paul Kelly called upon the 2016 French law that gives employees a right to disconnect, and how in 2018, a UK employer was fined for requiring an employee based in France to keep his telephone on permanently so that he could always be contacted by colleagues and customers, even outside of working hours.
If you are looking to implement a new procedure to ensure employees create a better work-life balance, our useful leave and absence calendar can help ensure your employees are not forced to interact with work-related communication outside of their working hours by clearly showing who is away from the business, when and for how long.
In addition, our useful homeworking manager can help keep transparency in your business so your employees can have the information they need, when they need it, ensuring your business can provide a clear work-life balance to your employees.
If you are looking to implement a four-day working week into your business, or just looking to see how oneHR can help create a smooth HR process, please get in contact with our team today.