Even two years into the pandemic, most of us haven’t gotten used to remote work. The way that it bleeds into our everyday living and makes it difficult to tell apart will never sit right with us. We’re finishing a work presentation while cooking lunch, logging four, five, six virtual meetings in one day, checking emails well into the night. The Internet will tell you that the “always-on” culture is where you want to be but what is it doing with your mental health and burnout levels? This is a good time to remind everyone that there’s such as thing as an employee’s “right to disconnect.”
What is the “right to disconnect”?
The “right to disconnect” is every employee’s right to disregard work-related communication after office hours without getting disciplinary action. It basically means you can ignore work calls, texts, and emails and resume answering them when you’re on the clock. This concept aims to draw a clear line between work and home, something that has blurred with the remote work era.
House Bill 4721 supports the right to disconnect
But it might not be applicable to all jobs
While the “right to disconnect” is a good idea, there are plenty of professions that it might not be applicable to. Take doctors and other urgent care workers, for example. Bello acknowledged this in 2017 and said that “completely disconnecting would be unrealistic for certain jobs.” In situations like these, employers are tasked to come up with policies and guidelines that will benefit both parties but stay in line with the standards of the labor code.
“It’s the employers’ own assessments and evaluations to reduce out-of-hours work. They either implement policy that will prevent their employees to work after office hours or compensate them for extra workload,” Bello added.
Why is the “right to disconnect” important?
Combine the fast-paced digital age and the new remote work environment and it’s easy for employees to drown in work. They’re expected to quickly respond to messages all the time. Heavy workload is justified by some sort of excuse that since they’re at home, they could do more work. Bills that support the right to disconnect could help ease employee burnout and stress. It serves to remind companies that employees have lives outside of work too. Lastly, it protects employees from getting penalized or worse, fired for not being instantly reachable.
Senate Bill 2475 mandates employees’ rest hours
Of penalties and overtime work
Following in the footsteps of other countries
If you’ve watched Emily in Paris, you’ll have an idea of how France prioritizes their employee’s “right to disconnect.” The show emphasizes how Parisians avoid engaging in work when their work hours are over and during weekends. That wasn’t fiction. In 2016, the French government passed a labor law that included every employee’s right to disconnect without being penalized. European countries soon followed suit — Belgium, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Ireland — while others are considering doing the same. It looks like many government officials are working hard to give this right to the Filipino people too.
So don’t be afraid to disconnect
Ultimately, everyone should have the right to disconnect as human beings. Especially now that we’re going through this rollercoaster of a pandemic. If the line between work and rest seems blurry, sometimes it’s up to you to make it clear and set boundaries. However, this doesn’t mean you can neglect your duties and call it a day. Make sure you do your part and fulfill your responsibilities too.
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