Michael Staines
Michael Staines

15.47 24 Jun 2020


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Lockdown has led to a large increase in workers feeling pressure to answer calls, texts and emails outside of hours.

Research from the Financial Services Union (FSU) shows that the number of people who felt obliged to keep working out-of-hours rose from 25% in October to 44% last month.

Meanwhile, over 60% of bank workers felt their work intensity had increased during the pandemic.

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The union is calling for new laws obliging companies to agree clear policies on the right to disconnect with their employees.

Right to disconnect: Workers under rising pressure to answer out of hours

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

  

Speaking to Moncrieff this afternoon, FSU Head of Industrial Relations Gareth Murphy said the working day is increasingly being extended into the evenings and weekends.

“That has a huge impact, first and foremost on the individual,” he said. “It leads to burnout and it leads to a range of mental health challenges and physical challenges.

“But also, on a macro-economic level, it has an impact on employment because if you have a team of ten, but everybody is adding that extra 10% on in their evenings or on their weekends, that team should be 11.

“When you multiply that in an economy, it actually has quite a dampening negative impact on employment levels overall.

“So, that’s why we feel that the right to disconnect is really, really important. It is important for the individual worker, but it’s also important for society as a whole.”

He noted that there is a big difference between a manager ringing an employee in an emergency and the expectation that an employee should always be available.

“What is most important is that the culture of management changes,” he said.

“That management no longer sets an expectation that you have to be always on or you have to have the iPhone in the pocket and be there when the red number goes up on your email messages and you feel you have to check in on what your manager might be saying and answer that.”

He said clear workplace guidelines could provide overtime and standby allowances for employees who are on-call and said different practices could be put in place for different industries.

“We do feel that having a voice for workers in the workplace is the most important and useful way of actually agreeing a policy and procedure that works for that particular employment,” he said.

“Different operations have different operating rhythms and different processes for work, be they local or global and actually legislating for workers to engage with the employer and collectively bargain and agree a policy is the best way of actually doing that.”

You can listen back to the full interview here:

Right to disconnect: Workers under rising pressure to answer out of hours

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

  


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