‘I have sent an urgent mail, please check it and solve the problem as soon as possible. I know you are home, but this needs to be fixed right now. Do it and report to me’.
Have you been to a situation like this before? When your boss calls you for work beyond the office hours. Yes, some time or the other, we all have faced a similar situation. And when we receive such a call, it builds up the stress, anxiety, and takes a toll on the personal life as well. This persistent urge to respond to calls and emails (termed as ‘telepressure’), constant checking of emails throughout the day, and even on weekends and holidays, is reported to have destroyed the work-life balance of employees. According to a study, the constant monitoring of work-related messages and emails would overtax employees’ brains leading to a condition called ‘info-obesity’. This condition is characterised by stress, burnouts and sleeplessness.
While speaking to My Medical Mantra, Supriya Sule, said, “The Bill recognises the right to disconnect as a way to reduce stress and ease tension between an employee’s personal, and professional life.”
She added, “The Right to Disconnect Bill respects the personal space of the employees by recognising their right to disconnect and not respond to their employer’s calls, emails, etc., during out-of-work hours. While the Bill recognises the rights of the employees, it also takes into consideration the competitive needs of the companies and their diverse work cultures.”
While introducing the bill in the parliament, Supriya Sule cited the studies which have found that if an employee is expected to be available round the clock, they tend to exhibit risks of overwork like sleep deprivation, developing stress, and being emotionally exhausted.
She further added, “The Bill provides for flexibility in the right to disconnect rules and leaves it to the individual companies to negotiate terms of service with their employees. If an employee agrees to works during out-of-work hours, the Bill entitles him to overtime pay at the same rate as his wage rate. The provision aims to check the surge in unpaid overtime work, brought about by digital transformation.”
The Bill states:
- In case of lack of consensus between employer and employee during negotiations, the company is required to explicitly lay out their out-of-work demands from their employees, in the Charter, and the employees can either choose to work or enforce their right to disconnect.
- The Bill also mandates the companies to draft their policy towards employees working remotely, teleworking, and travelling for work.
- The Bill provides for constitution of Employees’ Welfare Committees at every company to assist the employees in negotiations with employers.
- It also has a provision to ensure that these negotiations are held frequently at regular intervals, to keep in line with the dynamic business demands.
In the bill, Supriya Sule stated that Studies show that when employees are overburdened with work, either their productivity stays constant or even reduces with the increase in work hours.
While speaking to My Medical Mantra Dr Heena Merchant, Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Sion Hospital said, “This is a welcome move. I appreciate the bill which has been introduced in the parliament. Nowadays, a number of people take their office work home and work round the clock. This takes a toll on their relationship and personal life. I would appeal that people should to chose to balance work and life in a wise manner. We have to define our own boundary line, in terms of work.”