NCP’s Supriya Sule has presented a private member bill in the Lok Sabha on 28th of December which allows employees to refuse and reject any work-related call and email beyond office hours and on holidays. The bill is called “The Right to Disconnect” and it bounds companies to detail out-of-work demands in order to reduce stress in employees of a private firm.
According to the bill, any company with more than 10 employees would have to negotiate the specific terms and conditions with the employees and publish their own charter. The companies also create an Employee Welfare Committee whose members should consist of representatives from the company’s payroll.
Companies are also not allowed to take any disciplinary action against any employee who refuses to receive work-related calls outside of the accepted terms. However, an employee can work overtime out of his free will. If companies don’t company with the policies, they can suffer fines and penalties which has been proposed to be one per cent of the employee’s total remuneration.
“Studies have found that if an employee is expected to be available round-the-clock, they tend to exhibit risks of over-working like sleep deprivation, developing stress and being emotionally exhausted,” Sule told the Indian Express. “This persistent urge to respond to calls and e-mails (termed as ‘telepressure’), constant checking of e-mails throughout the day, and even on weekends and holidays, is reported to have destroyed the work-life balance of employees.”
Several countries have come up with similar regulations to protect employees rights. France has imposed a law stating employees are not obliged to reply to emails outside office hours. A bunch of European countries have rules set up guiding how many hours an employee can work every week. For instance, in the Netherlands, an employee can only work 40 hours a week.
The bill reads very effectively and promising. However, it’s just a proposal as of now and needs to be passed through Lok Sabha and then the Rajya Sabha to finally become law.