Kiwi workers want “right to disconnect”

A new survey shows employees feel pressured to reply to emails on weekends and outside of normal working hours.

Kiwi workers want “right to disconnect”

Many Kiwi employees are still connected to the workplace after they’ve left they’ve office but it’s an arrangement that’s fast losing favour, according to one new study.

They survey – which gathered responses from over 1,500 New Zealand and Australian employees – found that 13 per cent are expected to reply to work communications on weekends or after hours.

A further 34 per cent said they’re organisations had a similar unwritten rule but noted they are only “occasionally” expected to reply during down time.

“It’s been a long time since most of us worked 9 to 5,” said Jason Walker, managing director of Hays – the recruitment firm which commissioned the study. “Many New Zealanders are working longer hours, which extend past standard business hours into our evenings and weekends.”

While the situation may be widespread, it seems many are starting to grow weary – in fact,  66 per cent of New Zealand workers said employers should have a policy which encourages staff to limit the amount of time spent working after hours and on weekends.

The same survey found that just 10 per cent of organisations currently have such a policy in place.

Growing discontent is by no means unique to New Zealand – last year, French workers won the legal “right to disconnect” from emails and phone calls outside of business hours.

The policy came into force on 1st January 2017, and limits the encroachment of work during non-working hours by legally giving employees the right to turn off digital devices and technology – as long as they work for a company with more than 50 staff.

"These measures are designed to ensure respect for rest periods and ... balance between work and family and personal life,” France’s Ministry of Labour told CNN at the time.

The recent Hays survey found that 24 per cent of respondents think their employer should adopt a similar policy to the one implemented in France – however, many are still unsure it would work in New Zealand or Australia.

Twenty-eight per cent of all respondents praised the policy but admitted it wouldn’t work in their own organisation and a further 22 per cent said they didn’t like the policy at all. The final 16 per weren’t sure.

Walker suggested an ideal solution could be more malleable and come in the form of work-life integration.

“As opposed to work-life balance, with a scale balancing work on one side and life on the other, integration involves amalgamating work with the other elements of one’s life,” he said.

“Whether that’s caring for children or older relatives, health and wellbeing activities, voluntary work or any other personal priorities, integration means life and work overlap and flexibility cuts both ways.”

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