Work ethics: Bill 4721 to ban bosses from contacting staff outside work hours

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Filipino lawmakers are planning to ban business owners from contacting their employees outside office hours.

Quezon City Representative Winston filed House Bill 4721, to give workers the “right to disconnect from work-related electronic communications after work hours”.

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He said that when not working they should be “resting, recovering from fatigue, and spending time for themselves and their families”.

In his bill, Castelo said that while mobile technology now allows round-the-clock connectivity, it has also created the problem of “undeclared labor.” He believes employees now feel themselves compelled to work beyond office hours by responding to e-mails, text messages and phone calls.

Castelo pointed out that while this may increase productivity, it has a detrimental effect on the well-being of workers.

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“It can lead to burnout, or the physical, psychological and emotional distress caused by a total inability to rest, and a diminished balance between work and family,” he said.

“Because employees are expected to respond to e-mails and text messages outside office hours, they are not able to separate themselves from work even when they are at home, when they are supposed to be recovering.”

The bill, which aims to amend The Labor Code, said employees may not be “reprimanded, punished or subjected to disciplinary action” if they ignore an electronic communication sent after agreed work hours.

The measure would compel employers to establish hours when workers were not supposed to engage with work-related communications.

Castelo also claimed the policy would benefit employers as their employees would be “well rested and more productive and prevent absences, tardiness and sickness”.

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