On January 1st a new act came into force in France, whereby companies with over 50 employees will now have to negotiate with them their right to unwind in non-working hours.
According to a research carried out by Randstad, 30% of employees in Spain state they can´t unwind from work and 2 out of 5 employees feel pressure to answer the e-mails and phone calls they get in non-working hours.
Ana Gómez, Partner at ONTIER's Labour Law Department, states for Radio ECCA that an employee has no need to be available in non-working hours because ''working hours are set by an agreement by and between employer and employee in the employment contract. Employees cannot be compelled to carry out any other task in non-working hours. When employees decide to work in non-working hours, that would be considered working overtime’’.
Many companies have already taken measures to stop work from interfering in the private lives of their employees. Blocking work e-mail access during night time and weekends is a possible measure to be carried out for this purpose.
The French regulation doesn't force employees to switch off their phones in non-working hours: it just makes way for both parties to start a negotiation. It is both the company and the employees who must reach an agreement. If they don't, it will be the company who will set the rules, depending on the company needs in terms of production.
In Spain we don't have a specific regulation for this purpose, but we do have tools to ease this process of unwinding from work. Ana Gómez explains that in Spain there's a regulation on working hours and free time and also a wide social rights jurisprudence. Several judgments regarding this topic have also been delivered. One of them has to do with homeworking employees. Gómez concludes stating that ''there are available resources taking care of employees' right to unwind from work, but developing a specific regulation as they did in France is always the best option''.
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