How many times have you been relaxing in your free time only to be hit with an email from work? With the advancements in technology the days of working 9-5 seem to be a thing of the past. It used to be that once you left work, you left work. Now it can follow you and pop up with the push of a button or click of a mouse.
That may be about to change in Germany. That country’s Labor Minister is looking into the possibility of “anti-stress” regulations. German employees could soon have legal protection preventing them from having to deal with work-related phone calls and emails after hours and on weekends.
Government officials are collecting data in preparation to draft a proposal for lawmakers next year. Labor Minister Andrea Nahles feels “there is a connection between permanent availability and psychological diseases.” Germany’s economy seems to support the premise that happy workers are productive workers. Every worker in Germany gets at least four weeks of paid vacation. Most employees have a 35 hour work week and women are allowed 14 weeks of paid maternity leave.
Some German companies have already taken voluntary measures to reduce after hours work. Volkswagen has restricted after-work email for some employees who have been issued company-owned smartphones. For workers under wage agreements, the company’s email server is programmed to stop delivering messages between 6:15 p.m. and 7 a.m. the following morning. Weekends are also off-limits. “Supervisors and employees regard the regulation as a signal to respect recreation times and to interrupt after-work hours only in emergencies,” said Volkswagen spokesman Markus Schlesag.
Brendan Spaar found that there is a cost to these “perks”. However, Germany’s DGB union leader believes “We clearly have a higher work protection standards compared to the United States, but in regard to competitiveness we are at least on a face-to-face level with the Americans. “Good and healthy work that can be maintained for a long time is a competitive advantage.”
I doubt we see changes like this in the US anytime soon. We operate in an immediate response society. Everything has to be fast- fast food, tv on demand & being in touch 24/7.