Be Careful Of Assuming Availability

Posted August 24, 2018 by Mary McGinley

In a world where more than 50% of workers feel as if they cannot disconnect even on their downtime, it is no wonder that companies and countries are taking a hard look at their phone policies. So while our smart devices make it possible to be available 24/7, such implied constant availability shouldn’t be assumed, especially by employers.

In a story appearing on the Personnel Today website, columnist Adam McCulloch writes that smart devices may be today’s must-have convenience for both personal and work use, however, in countries like France, for example, legislation has been passed so that workers have a “right to disconnect” so that by law they do not have to work more than 48 hours per week.

This law, which came into effect in January of 2017, was passed in an effort to help workers break away from being made to feel as if they are always available outside of their workday hours.

In a recent case in Ireland, a company executive was awarded the sum of €7,500 because she had been required to deal with emails outside of her regular work hours and sometimes well after midnight. Because of this excess work that fell outside of her employer’s regular business hours, she was awarded the sum because it was in direct violation of 48 hours work week maximum outlined in the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 in Ireland. A similar case in France saw a former employee of Rentokil awarded the sum of €60,000 because they were also not allowed to disconnect according to the country’s law.

Because today’s companies have bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies where workers bring their own smartphones and can use them in work-related tasks, it is easy for workers to feel obligated to be constantly connected and “on” in terms of their work life. Will Steed of employment agency, Hill Dickinson recommends that companies and workers alike practice common sense when it comes to checking phones for work purposes. Workers who feel as if they are constantly connected to work miss out on valuable sleep that can cut down on overall productivity.