Why Governments are Restricting and Regulating After Hours Work of Employees?

Why Worried Governments and Business Leaders are Regulating after Hours Availability

In our 24/7 breakneck speed and hyper-connected world, employees are expected to put in many hours and also be responsive to calls and emails as well as other forms of communication even after working hours.

Indeed, ask any professional in any field and invariably, they mention how their bosses expect them to check and answer email, make and receive phone calls from peers and others, as well as be on the ball as far as availability after working hours is concerned.

This is not restricted to a particular country or region, and it has become a worldwide trend for professionals to not leave the office behind even after they return home and are otherwise engaged in domestic and other pursuits.

While one can both justify and criticize these expectations of after working hours availability, it is interesting to note that governments worldwide are stepping in and passing legislation that restricts and regulates after working hours availability of employees.

In recent months, France has become the first country to officially ban after working hours availability of employees expect in certain circumstances which would be discussed later in this article.

The United Kingdom and The United States are expected to follow suit as far as laws and regulations concerning after working hours availability of employees.

What more, the idea or the proposal to limit after working hours availability of employees is gaining traction in India as well with the introduction of a Private Member’s Bill in this regard.

Thus, it can be said that governments worldwide are getting concerned over the direction in which the Digital Age is taking all of us and the professionals in high pressure work are concerned.

Job Mandates, Stress, Burnout, and Switching Off

So, why are governments and policymakers concerned about this aspect? After all, professions such as Investment Banking, Information Technology Support and Delivery, and Financial Services expect their employees to put in longer hours as well is responsive to the needs and demands of internal organizational and external client facing imperatives.

Indeed, the Personal Bankers and the Relationship Managers in Banking and Sales and Marketing are expected to be available even after working hours as per their job descriptions.

Moreover, what is the use of having a RM or a SPOC or Single Point of Contact if the Clients cannot reach them at any time of the day when crises arise?

While governmental stakeholders do allow for certain professions such as Doctors and others in Life Critical and Mission Critical Professions to be available 24/7, what is new is the focus on delineating and defining what is such a need for professionals to be available at all times.

Indeed, this is something that Industry Experts and Business Leaders too seem to agree upon and that is, it is high time employees are expected to De-Plug (Literally and Metaphorically) and keep their Smartphones away so that they are not consumed by the Irresistible addiction of checking Official Email, or WhatsApp messages, or for that matter checking their Call Logs to see if anyone from work had called.

The need for employees to rest and be refreshed when they resume work the next day is a major concern that many stakeholders are expressing as part of their intention to regulate and restrict after working hours availability of employees.

Indeed, in times when Stress and Burnout are taking their toll on entire generations of professionals, worried Thought Leaders and Business Icons are joining hands with the Governmental Stakeholders to draft and pass legislation which would regulate the excessive demands from employers of their employees.

New Bargain and Social Contract between Employers and Employees Needed

Having said that, while regulating and restricting after working hours availability is indeed a Noble Initiative, there is a danger that Employers would find newer ways to reach their employees and worse, would reward those employees more who are willing to ignore the laws and be available 24/7.

Moreover, as mentioned earlier, bosses too cannot be blamed for this as they are part of a Chain of Command and an Intricate Organizational Web that expects them to be responsive to the needs and demands of work.

Thus, what is needed apart from this legislation is a broader debate over the direction in which our Always on Culture is taking us.

Indeed, these fears were expressed even when the First Industrial Revolution was bringing about an Upheaval in terms of nature of work and the Social Contract.

However, over time, Unions formed and Governments were able to arrive at an agreement with the former about Worker’s Rights and Responsibilities as well as Expectations from the Employers.

Thus, it is clear that as we are on the Cusp of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, we might again have to rethink our assumptions and expectations of the different stakeholders and arrive at a Middle Ground where there would be some sort of balance between Employees Leading Healthy Lives and the Employers being satisfied with such optimal or at least realistic outcomes.

Conclusion

Lastly, healthy workers make for healthy workplaces that enhance workforce productivity and in turn, bump up the organizational productivity.

Therefore, it is high time for corporates to realize that instead of spending outrageous amounts on the healthcare needs of employees, cost effective solutions such as Regulating After Hours Availability of Employees is a Sensible Step Forward.

To conclude, the contemporary times are indeed stressful for both employers and employees and a way out would be to strike a Bargain about where professional commitments stop and where personal wellbeing takes over.


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The article is Written By “Prachi Juneja” and Reviewed By Management Study Guide Content Team. MSG Content Team comprises experienced Faculty Member, Professionals and Subject Matter Experts. We are a ISO 2001:2015 Certified Education Provider. To Know more, click on About Us. The use of this material is free for learning and education purpose. Please reference authorship of content used, including link(s) to ManagementStudyGuide.com and the content page url.