Monday, November 29

UK Workers Need Right to Disconnect Amid ‘Overtime Epidemic’, Report Says | Working from home

Covid working from home has sparked a “hidden overtime epidemic” that particularly affects women, leading to the need for new “right to disconnect” laws, according to a report from Autonomy thinktank.

The organization said that unpaid work was a growing problem in the era of rising home work, where women are at higher risk of negative health impacts and mental distress.

As part of the report, he proposed a bill that would create a “right to disconnect”, based on French law, which stipulates that employees do not have to take calls or read work-related emails during their free time.

He called for two amendments to be made to the 1996 Labor Rights Act to ensure that workers have the right to completely disconnect from all work communications outside of working hours and to take any non-compliance to labor courts.

He suggested that an employer “should not require a worker hired by him to monitor or respond to any work-related communication, or to carry out any work, outside of the working hours agreed with the worker” or subject the worker to any harm for not doing it. . Exemptions would be proposed for industries where that is not feasible and where the employer has taken all reasonable steps to minimize work outside of agreed hours.

The report said that a previous study by Autonomy, Compass and the Four Day Week Campaign on overwork during the Covid pandemic found that at all stages of the crisis women have felt disproportionately negative impacts. in mental health.

The study found that women were 43% more likely to have increased their hours beyond a standard work week than men, and for those with children, this was even more clearly associated with mental distress.

Will Stronge, research director at Autonomy, said the Covid pandemic has “accelerated the need to create much clearer boundaries between work and family life.”

Angela Rayner, the deputy Labor leader who has a shadow cabinet report on the future of work, said: “Along with the right to flexible work, there must be the right to disconnect. It’s only fair that workers can set healthy boundaries, unplugging and unplugging from work after hours.

“In the modern workplace, we cannot find ourselves in a place where workers are expected to compromise their families, responsibilities or hobbies to meet the expectations of the employer. It is not a sustainable way to run an economy. Many good companies want to see these kinds of protections guaranteed for workers across the board.

“The work will guarantee that all workers have the right to flexible work and the right to disconnect. We need a new agreement for the workers and the Labor Party will deliver on it. “

The idea of ​​a right to disconnect has been the subject of a campaign by Prospect, the union, which found at the beginning of the year that 59% of all workers support the introduction of the right to disconnect, while 17% oppose. It found that among new remote workers, 66% were in favor and 14% were against.

Andrew Pakes, research director at Prospect, said: “Other countries have already acted to address this by incorporating the right to disconnect for workers, and we are calling on the UK government to take action now so that we are not left behind.”

The government has not endorsed the right to disconnect, but has a flexible task force that looks at work-from-home-related issues that arose during the pandemic.

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