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Soon you will not have to answer calls from your boss after working hours

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New Delhi, Jan 9: An interesting Bill known as the Right to Disconnect Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha by NCP MP Supriya Sule. In a nutshell this Bill gives employees the right not to respond to communication from employers outside of office hours.

Soon you will not have to answer calls from your boss after working hours

The Bill is largely aimed at reducing stress and ease tensions. The Bill mandates companies to detail out of work demands, Sule explained.

How it works:

An Employee Welfare Authority will be set up. This would include IT, Communication and Labour Ministers. A study on the impact of digital tools beyond work hours would have to be published. A charter outlining the employee-employer negotiations would have to be put out.

The Bill also states that companies with more than ten employees would periodically negotiate specific terms with their workers, publish their own charter. An Employee Welfare Committee comprising representatives of company's workforce will have to be created.

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The Bill forbids any disciplinary action if an employee does not reply to the employers calls or attempts to contact after work hours. If the employee works outside the work hours as agreed upon, then he or she is entitled for an overtime.

Non-adherence would lead to penalties of one per cent of the total employee renumeration. The government would also have to provide employee counselling, digital detox centres in a bid to free an employee from digital distractions, thus enabling him to connect with people around him.

The origin:

The right to disconnect emerged in France in a decision in the Labour Chamber of the Supreme Court. The October 2 2001 decision held that the employee is under no obligation either to accept working at home or to bring there his files and working tools".

In 2004 the Supreme Court affirmed this decision and ruled that "the fact that [the employee] was not reachable on his cell phone outside working hours cannot be considered as misconduct."

In Germany, where there is no actual law to this effect, several companies have implemented policies to this effect.

Volkswagen implemented a policy in 2011 stating that it would stop email servers from sending emails to the mobile phones of employees between 6pm and 7am. Other German companies such as Allianz, Telekom, Bayer and Henkel all have similar policies in place to limit the amount of digital connection employees have after work hours.

In 2013 Germany's employment ministry banned its managers from contacting staff after hours as part of a wider agreement on remote working. It was done in order to protect the mental health of workers.

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In 2014, automobile company Daimler introduced software called "Mail on Holiday" that its employees could use to automatically delete incoming emails while they were on vacation. This was done to allow Daimler's employees the opportunity to get a break and come back to work refreshed.

According to Wikipedia, German employment minister in 2014, Andrea Nahles, sought to introduce "anti-stress legislation" in response to the rising levels of stress and mental health issues in Germany. Such legislation would ban companies from making contact with employees out of work hours. Nahles commissioned the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to produce a report researching mental health in the work place and the viability of legislation to target it. The report was completed and published in 2017.

Similar laws are also existent in Italy and the Philippines.

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