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No texts, no calls: Workers should enjoy ‘right to disconnect’ 

by Leila Salaverria

WHAT do you do when you get off work? If you still spend your personal time responding to text messages, calls, or emails from your boss or co-workers, then you’re not enjoying your “right to disconnect,” according to a lawmaker. 

What is this right?

This refers to a worker’s right to disengage from work and refrain from tackling work-related electronic communications, such as emails or other messages, during non-work hours. 

This is not mentioned in the bill of rights, but pending legislation in the House of Representatives seeks to institutionalize and protect this right and ensure that workers get to exercise this. 

Quezon City Rep. Patrick Michael “PM” Vargas filed the Workers’ Right to Disconnect bill, which is pending in the House labor committee.

Reasonable working hours 

In proposing the measure, Vargas noted that advances in technology have blurred the lines between work and home life.

But he pointed out that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “everyone has the right to work and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.”

His measure seeks to grant workers the right to disconnect from work-related electronic communications after work hours.  

“This bill recognizes that working excessive hours pose a danger to workers’ health and to their families,” he said. 

He noted that the government of France has adopted a new labor law that includes the right to disconnect in order to diminish the risks of burnout or the physical, psychological, and emotional distress caused by the total inability to rest and diminished work-life balance. 

What does the bill say?

Vargas’ bill proposes to amend the country’s Labor Code to consider time spent reading and responding to work-related communications sent through email, text messages, mobile phone calls, and other electronic meals as “hours worked.”

It also seeks to include a provision that defines the right to disconnect and states that the employee must not be reprimanded, punished, or otherwise subjected to disciplinary action for disregarding work-related communication sent after work hours.

It likewise proposes to lay down a policy on after-hours use of technology.

This states that the employer has the duty to establish the hours when employees are not supposed to send or answer work-related emails, texts, or calls.



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