The new ‘disconnecting from work bill’ introduced in New York a few week ago could mean that contacting employees out of work time could soon be against the law. The new bill would mean contacting employees via email or instant messaging when they are out of work hours could result in a fine for the employer to pay the employee up to $500.
This bill has been introduced to allow employees to establish a real work life balance and take pressures off working when off duty – allowing them quality time away from work (there are exceptions in certain industries including health).
In France there is already a law in place that allows employees to ignore work emails and calls outside of their work hours.
In the UK – there has been an increase on the average working hours to 37.1hours in the office (2017) however over 30% of the UK work more than 48 hours a week, these figures are based on working hours and not the extra time people spend working when they get home or when they’re on holiday.
So how important is being accessible outside work and should we work outside of work hours at all?
Some companies are going as far as not allowing people to work outside of working hours – not rewarding extra time outside of work and viewing working outside of work as a negative thing.
Their belief is that you need time off work to refresh and relax so that when you are at work you can do your job properly – emails and calls can wait until you’re back in the office.
The importance of being accessible outside of work depends on your role and what your role entails. As expected, if you’re a senior employee, director or decision maker it might be encouraged that you answer your emails and telephone calls outside of work. For the other employees – it is crucial?
There are of course other criteria that may result in employees needing to be flexible with outside working such as areas of international business and sales.
Even within these sectors, as an employer, is it ethical to expect employees to go further than above and beyond and work outside of work?
For us it all depends on your industry, role and internal drive.
As an Executive Search firm, Oakstone consultants need to talk to people at all times to allow us to talk to the right people when they are not at work.
Taking calls and emails outside of work is what contributes to Oakstone’s success. Our consultants want to talk to the right candidates at anytime to lead to their own success as well as the business’, our clients and candidates. Oakstone doesn’t encourage or discourage working outside of work but it is up to the consultant to establish whether working outside of work is going to accelerate their success or not. It depends on the individual and their drive.
Expecting employees to work outside of work hours is unethical but in our opinion penalising individuals for choosing to work outside of work hours is also unethical.
Working outside of work should be up to the individual not the company they work for.