Banning work emails during weekends and holidays
29 August 2014
Germany is considering enacting an anti-stress law that would make it illegal for employers to send emails to workers during free time and holidays.
We are grateful to The Times for sharing this story:
Germany is poised to enact an anti-stress law that would make it illegal for employers to send emails to workers during free time and holidays.
Andrea Nahles, the labour minister, announced her support for the legislation while introducing a study into mental health. Ms Nahles said she had commissioned the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to produce a feasibility study for a law to protect workers from stress caused by smartphones and “constant contact” with their bosses. It may ultimately forbid employers from calling staff during their free time. “There is an undeniable link between having to be constantly available for work and the rise in mental illnesses,” she said.
The announcement comes after some companies had implemented similar rules. Daimler, the car manufacturer, has guaranteed stress-free breaks for its 100,000 employees by giving them the option to have all their new emails deleted while they are away. “Our employees should relax on holiday and not read work-related emails,” Wilfried Porth, a Daimler director, said. “With our ‘mail on holiday’ system they start back after the holidays with a clean desk. There is no traffic jam in their inbox. That is an emotional relief.”
Deutsche Telekom does not send emails to staff in the evenings, at weekends and during holidays. In 2011 Volkswagen announced that its servers would stop sending emails to employees in the evening. Guntram Schneider, the labour minister for North Rhine-Westphalia, said he envisaged a law banning employers from contacting employees at certain times of the day, saying it was necessary for their sanity and health.
The association of Germany’s pension providers said that 66,441 workers were on disability pensions last year because of mental illnesses, including depression. A large health insurer said that stress levels among workers had increased significantly in Germany in the past 12 months.