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Employment minister wants to regulate work emails after hours

10:19 20/12/2017

Belgian companies need to conclude agreements with their staff about sending emails outside of work hours, according to the guidelines of a draft law by employment minister Kris Peeters (CD&V), reports VTM news and RTBF.

Peeters wants to reduce the stress faced by workers who are confronted with emails when they return home. “We are requirng employers to consult with workers and finalise clear agreements. It needs to be decided if workers are obliged to reply to emails and text messages during the weekend or outside of office hours. It is also necessary to have a consultation to determine if it is technically possible to continue to receive emails outside of office hours,” said the minister.

At the end of June, Peeters expressed his desire for a consultation with social partners concerning ‘disconnection’. This does not always correspond to current working methods, where private and professional are linked, replied Bart Buysse for the Federation of Enterprises in Belgium. He suggested that being connected also offered possibilities to work in a flexible way and for example combine work and family life.

Buysse recommended a consultation between workers and employers, saying discussions should take place depending on the function of the company and on the base of employees’ jobs.

Since January 2017, a new employment law in France obliges companies of more than 50 employees to offer workers the right to ‘disconnect’. Overuse of digital technology and compulsive out-of-hours email checking has been blamed for the increase in workplace stress and burnout.

Written by Sarah Crew