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Germany – Labour Minister wants Blackberry-free zone after working hours

14 June 2012

Studies show that more and more employees in Germany are suffering from work-related stress and psychological disorders and Labour Minister Ursula von der Leyen wants put an end to this. She is keen to have employers introduce clear regulations which will stop employers reaching their staff out-of-hours on their mobile phones or via e-mail.

Although she said that modern means of communication, such as smartphones, help to increase business flexibility, Ms Von der Leyen criticised that this is also swamping employees and destroys a healthy work/life balance.

A recent index by the confederation of German trade unions (‘DGB’) showed that 60% of employees are available outside their normal working hours while in a third of cases this happens on a regular basis.

But the Minister is not happy with these developments and now said that there had to “very clear” regulations in businesses regarding their “mobile phone culture and email traffic.”

She said employers should clearly make evident in agreements when staff should be available. Companies should also expect that employees will not answer emails or phones once they have finished work.

The Labour Minister made her announcementas part of a targeted campaign and official negotiations will be launched next year.

The DGB meanwhile advocates an addition in the labour protection act which should include an anti-stress decree. They argue that constant staff availability is not only harming employees but also the economy.

Some companies have already started to regulate this – VW, for instance, has introduced a Blackberry-free zone after work.

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Des 22/06/2012 3:30 pm

I lived in Germany for near on five years in the late 90's early 2000's and had a business there with many staff involved with the motor trade. It was in a time when smart phones didn't exist but mobiles or handies as they called them did. My handie never stopped with calls and texts from 6 am till 6 pm but then fell silent as people respected your ME time back then. However e-mail would be sent 24 hours a day like a passive aggressive tap on you shoulder which was ok as you would only see it during working hours on your desktop computer. Now days I'm sort of semi retired back in the UK working in retail and get e-mails and texts on my smart phone from 7 am and after 9pm with information that doesn't concern me or care about. It's not often I agree with the Germans but they're onto something here to make this sort of contact illegal, your work day should finish when you shut he door on the shop not when you turn your phone off.


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