The past year has transformed ways of working, with many of us commuting to our studies, spare rooms and kitchen tables rather than the office. With home working now likely to become a permanent fixture, the onus is on employers to amend their HR policies to meet the demands of a more flexible workforce and for business leaders to adapt their management styles as a result.
Before the pandemic, the issue of digital presenteeism was a growing concern, with our smartphones, laptops, and other digital devices creating an ‘always-on’ culture. There is a real risk that the transition to home-working, post-pandemic, could exacerbate these issues further and according to a BBC report calls to ban out of hours emails from bosses are now being made.
The calls for a legally binding “right to disconnect” are growing and would mirror legislation already introduced in countries such as France. While we wait and see if any legal changes are forthcoming, I would always encourage employers and their management teams to engage with their staff and understand staff preferences on out of hours contact. This is likely to depend on in the circumstances in each sector and organisation, recognising there is a balance between working flexibly beyond the traditional 9-5 model but at the same time acknowledging the clear need for a work-life balance.
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