Friday, 19 August 2022 – 11:49

Do we work too much out of hours?

Should we have the legal right to turn off our work devices after hours?

Rebecca Long-Bailey thinks we should have, with her calling for the end of the “24/7 work culture”. The Labour leadership candidate has said that workers should be given the legal right to ignore their work emails and messages outside of their designated working hours.

Often we may automatically go to read and respond to work-related messages outside of hours or do so just on instinct. However, some employees may be under more pressure to keep checking their phone, whether that means responding to issues during their day off or continuing their workday on the way home by replying to emails on public transport.

It has been suggested that giving employees the right to switch off from work communications outside of hours could help improve mental health, with workers not feeling under an obligation to work out of hours.

However, there have been few details about how such a legal right could work or be implemented. 

There are also questions that we can ask over whether such a right is needed or whether workers are particularly keen on it. According to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), four in five UK employees work “satisfactory hours”. 

The average UK employee also works fewer hours than many of their counterparts around the world. Data from the OECD shows that UK workers are on their main job for fewer hours per week than workers in New Zealand, Brazil the USA and more countries. On average, UK workers work for around 36 hours a week.

Ms Long-Bailey, along with Lisa Nandy, Sir Keir Starmer and Emily Thornberry all remain in the Labour leadership contest to replace Jeremy Corbyn. The policy announced by Long-Bailey is one way in which she claims she will ‘back workers’ if elected.

 

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