Flexible Smartphone Dock And Charging Cable – Smartphones encourage employees to exceed the number of hours contracted to work, which in some cases can cause them to conflict with their employers. A case in Ireland, reported by Irish Times last week, saw a business executive get 7,500 euros after he stated that he was asked to deal with work e-mails outside working hours, some of which were midnight. This caused women, employed in a subsidiary of the Kepak meat producer, to work more than 48 hours a week as stipulated in the Ireland’s Organization of Working Time Act 1997.
Meanwhile, in France, Rentokil was ordered last month to pay a former € 60,000 employee for failing to respect his right to “turn off” his cellphone and computer after work. This case was brought under the new “right to decide” state, called the El Khomri law (named after the former minister of labor), which came into force in January 2017, and was intended as a response to “always-on” work culture.
Flexible Smartphone Dock And Charging Cable
According to Will Steed, a partner in the team of workers at Dickinson Hill, a similar case is likely to come before the British court too long and, he said, the impact of the decision could be significant. This is because they “can open the floodgates to a number of claims from employees who routinely work on extra hours through their mobile devices outside of their normal working days.”
He added: “Now is the time for entrepreneurs to think about what practical steps they can take to reduce this risk. For some companies, this will require a cultural shift from expecting 24/7 connections with employees made possible by technology. ”
When occasionally it becomes constant
The decision of the Irish Labor Court was recorded by senior civil servants after a recent survey which found that 90% of them reported working longer than legally contracted working hours.
Ciaran Rohan, secretary general of the Association of High Civil and Public Officials, said that given the role of responsibility they held, members were sometimes required to work outside contracted working hours.
“However, it sometimes becomes constant that this is a matter of concern,” he said.
Smartphones mean that many people are exposed to longer working hours because they are easier to reach after leaving the office.
Whether they choose to engage in extra work may be their own decision, but what about situations where employees feel they have to use their smartphone far beyond working hours to carry out their duties properly? And how often does this happen before employees and employers conflict?
Labor Union Secretary General Irish Secretary General Patricia King said the Kepak case highlights the importance of having clear laws that provide universal minimum standards.
He told Irish Times: “With the constant development of new and innovative technologies … it is important now that employers continue to engage with their employees through their trade unions so that we can secure a proper pragmatic agreement … that respects workers’ rights for sufficient time ”
But many companies argue that the heavy use of smart phones and tablets in the social environment, recreation means that the lines are blurred between personal use and work use. As a result, it will be difficult to determine whether the “extra work” done can be done during normal business hours.
In the case of Ireland, for example, Kepak said that the amount of work carried out by women was in accordance with what was done by other staff members, none of whom worked beyond the 48 hour maximum stipulated in the law.
Such cases can be regulated to be more common when employers turn away from traditional work models. When auditing giant PwC, landlines were cut off and up to 18,000 British staff were released by the iPhone. John Compton at PwC told Today’s Personnel in June: “Our young staff is prosperous and highly mobile technology. We are a technology driven business and our staff wants this and our clients. ”
Can employees turn off?
But the question remains: can employees deactivate and how much of their work requires them to check messages after working hours, whatever their employer’s policy on this issue?
The El Khomri Act in France requires companies of more than 50 employees to compile a charter of good behavior, outlining the hours when staff may not send or respond to emails. In the Rentokil case a regional director, the supreme court decided, “is expected to leave the telephone permanently – to respond to requests from subordinates and customers”.
Rentokil does not consider the employee to be called officially and therefore does not replace it for this work. But the court ruled that the employee was indeed on the phone, because the contact details were explicitly registered as someone to contact in an emergency.
A recent study in France by the Eleas research group revealed that more than a third of French workers use their devices to work outside the clock every day and that a clear majority (60%) supports the new law.
Resistance to smartphones has also been seen elsewhere in Europe: Volkswagen Germany decided in 2012 to turn off email to work phones outside working hours and Daimler has introduced automatic deletions of emails sent during staff holidays.
In the UK, CIPD last year published a report stating that a third of employees in the country felt that they could not turn off in their personal time with 40% checking cellphone work or emailing them at least five times a day outside of work hours. However, many recognize that this technology helps them work more productively and flexibly.
Working Time Regulations
Steed said the 1998 Working Time Regulations (WTR), which set a maximum number of working hours of 48 per week (on average for 17 weeks), provided what appeared to be unambiguous rights. But the flexible work and smartphone technology together raises several questions, he said. “WTR rights are increasingly the subject of complex litigation as the court grapples with how to apply it to new and flexible ways in which people work.
“For example, in the case of field workers who were not assigned to a permanent workplace, it was recently confirmed that the time they spent traveling from home to their first assignment (and from their last assignment back home) must be a working time for WTR purposes. ”
Steed said this prompted questions from workers who, after leaving their workplace for the day, continued to check and respond to emails on their smartphones, tablets, and / or laptops, either on their trips or after returning home.
Government guidance on the WTR shows that no voluntary overtime work that is not paid (for example, being late to get things done) or traveling to and from work remains to be calculated for the purpose of the WTR.
However, because more and more companies are introducing their own device-carrying policies (BYOD), where employees access their work systems through their personal telephone, there is a possibility of increasing expectations for employees to stay connected to their workplace 24/7, because there are so many from us it was difficult to refuse to read emails every time a notification appeared.
Obligations or choices?
Steed said the question of whether this interfered with employee breaks and / or counting towards their weekly work time had not been tested in court, but would only be a problem before that.
He suggested that common sense states that working hours must be monitored and employees actively prohibited from checking work email outside office hours if possible. Emails and telephone calls to employees in the evenings or weekends should be avoided unless absolutely necessary. IT and BYOD policies must clearly state that employees are responsible for ensuring that they take the right breaks.
Steed added that employers should consider implementing measures to ensure that working hours outside working hours are actually taken for the purpose of keeping records.
David Israel, a partner at Royds Withy King, acknowledges that flexible and agile work patterns are a way forward for many people but they “come with danger and opportunity. Allowing an employee to choose when they work means having to adopt a flexible approach like what amount to ‘work time’. ”
He added: “Recent cases have focused on what ‘essence of regulation’ is – if someone chooses to review e-mail at night, then that is their choice. However, if the employer requires someone to review their e-mail at night, then it becomes a matter of ‘work time’. ”
He agreed with Steed that common sense must be applied. “No one will be criticized for checking their cellphones – more important is understanding what expectations have been set.”
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