July 18, 2023

Should workers have the right to switch off?

This post was written by: Laaibah Bhatti

The Labour Party have announced that they plan to introduce a “right to switch off” for workers, in the event that they win at the next general election.

“Workers should be given the right to switch off when they have left for the day to ensure homes don’t become 24/7 offices.

Constant emails and calls outside of work should not be the norm and is harming work-life balance for many “ Labour has said.

The party also wants employees to have the right to flexible practices such as working from home which would allow people to spend more time with their families instead of commuting.

The  “right to switch off” resembles the legislation introduced in France in 2017, which gave all workers the right to disconnect from their work devices outside of normal working hours.

For some employers, the immediate concern might be a loss of productivity or service standards. When an employee’s productivity drops, the amount of work they produce or the quality of their work may decline. This can result in missed deadlines or delayed projects, potentially leading to dissatisfied customers.  Employers already have a duty of care towards their employees however so is such legislation even required? 

Charities and mental health experts say it most certainly is and that is perhaps a good indicator for employers. 

A clear working practice within the workplace and happy employees is bound to pay dividends in the long run for employers and no doubt business who do not take this on board will eventually struggle with recruitment and retention.  They key is to ensure that there are process and checks in place to prevent burnout in employees in the first place.  Employers should ensure that the demands placed on employees do not regularly require working in excess of an employees’ contracted hours.  Regular reviews and clear guidance in what is expected of managers are the first steps to implement here.

If you require advice on an employment-related matter, please do get in touch with Ilinca Mardarescu (Head of Employment) on imardarescu@astonbond.co.uk or call 01753 486 777.