The plan to ban work emails out of hours - Palmers Solicitors

The plan to ban work emails out of hours

The plan to ban work emails out of hours

Should legislation be put in place to regulate work emails and rescue harassed staff from the perils of digital burnout?

In France, the answer to this question would appear to be yes, with the issue facing an imminent government vote. If passed it could, for the first time, give workers a "right to disconnect".

Companies of more than 50 people would be obliged to draw up a charter of good conduct, setting out the hours – normally in the evening and at weekends – when staff are not expected to send or answer emails.

When the proposal was first mooted, it was ridiculed in the media with images of hawk-eyed work inspectors snooping on the industrious.

However, the French government says the problem of being permanently connected is universal and growing – and that intervention is needed.

Lara Murray, a workplace employment expert with Palmers, said: “Many employees will sympathise with their French counterparts as work-home encroachment is a concerning aspect of the digital revolution. However, there are potential issues, particularly in the global marketplace.

“If you have a company with a number of international offices, or employees who regularly need to travel abroad as part of their roles, there is a need to keep in touch and the various time differences will be problematic.

“Whilst I think it is highly unlikely that the UK will follow France’s lead by passing legislation to restrict out of hours emails, it is important that employers give careful consideration to the issue.

“It may well be that company policies need to be looked at and, where necessary, redrafted to outline what is considered reasonable, for the avoidance of doubt and to ensure that certain line managers do not abuse staff goodwill by persistently contacting them out of hours.

“Who knows, the day may soon come when, in addition to the email message: “Consider the environment – think before you print” we will also see “Consider your staff – think before you press send.”