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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.