A labor group in the Philippines is calling on employers to respect the “workers’ right to disconnect” from work-related phone calls, chats, texts, and e-mails after working hours.
Disconnecting after work hours “should not be treated as a misconduct or a disobedience,” said Gerard Seno, national executive vice president of the Associated Labor Unions.
He said disconnecting from work-related calls “should not be a basis for demotion, disciplinary action or termination.”
The global union federation United Network International said the right to disconnect refers to the right of workers to disconnect from their work duties and to not receive or answer any work-related electronic mails, calls, or messages outside of normal working hours.
The federation said workers being constantly connected to their jobs has important negative effects that can weigh on their relationships and their mental health. If left unchecked, constant connection can lead to anxiety, burnout and depression, said the group.
“Respect to right to disconnect extends to the respect to workers’ periods of rest, leave and holidays as well as to their personal and family privacy,” said Seno.
The Philippines’ Department of Labor and Employment and the Civil Service Commission have yet to issue guidelines to serve as a reference for workers and employers.
A proposed law on the “right to disconnect” is still currently pending at the House of Representatives.
The “right to disconnect” as a legal right emerged in France following a Supreme Court ruling in 2001, stating that “the employee is under no obligation either to accept working at home or to bring there his files and working tools and employee cannot be reprimanded for being unreachable outside working hours.”
The decisions were adapted in the 2016 reform of French labor code that enabled employees to fully exercise their right to disconnect.
The law particularly encourage employers to introduce schemes and policies that regulate the use of digital tools with a view to ensure compliance with regulations governing rest and leave periods, privacy and family life of workers.