The right to disconnect is not recognized in Canada, but the growth in teleworking since the beginning of the COVID-19 could be a game-changer. Other countries have already legislated on this right of workers to better define the hours devoted to their professional tasks. Overview.
Since 2017, French companies that employ more than 50 employees have had to draw up a charter in which they specify the “terms of the right to disconnect”. The French government has therefore asked the business community to come up with its own definition, without forcing it. Awareness and training activities must be offered, however, as the French Labour Code indicates.
Germany has not legislated on the right to disconnect. This has not stopped German companies from taking initiatives to ensure that their employees do not respond to digital communications after office hours. Volkswagen, for example, completely shuts down email servers from 6:15 pm to 7 am. Daimler has implemented a device that deletes all emails sent during the recipient’s vacation, while Deutsche Telekom asks managers to think twice before sending a message after staff have left for the day.
The South Korean government has spared no efforts to ensure that its civil servants get rest over the weekend. It disconnects all computers at 7 pm on Friday. In this hyperconnected country, this initiative, launched in 2018, was accompanied by a decree that reduced the maximum number of hours that an employee can work each week from 68 to 52.
In 2017, the Philippines adopted a law that requires employees to determine the time slots during which workers are not supposed to send emails or texts, or make work-related phone calls, with some exceptions. Those who decide not to answer outside office hours cannot be reprimanded or disciplined. However, certain sectors of activity, such as the civil service, the media and hospitals, are not subject to this law.
In the United States, New York City began study of a bill in 2018 that would ensure that all private companies with more than 10 employees would be required to adopt a policy to govern the right to disconnect. They would therefore need to specify what digital communications would be allowed outside office hours and impose no discipline on workers who do not answer an email or text message after clocking out. Financial compensation would even be provided for those who have to stay connected for long hours. That said, New York elected officials have not discussed these issues in the past year.