The old saying goes: “Don’t take your work home with you.” However, many people find that work follows them home uninvitedly, in the form of emails, text messages, and social media.
The New York City Council has now introduced a bill that will make it illegal for companies to require that their employees check their emails or other electronic forms of communication during non-working hours.
The bill, dubbed the “Disconnecting From Work” Bill, also takes into account days where an employee is on annual leave, sick leave or takes personal days off.
“There’s a lot of New Yorkers out there that don’t know when their workday begins or when their workday ends, because we’re all so tied to our phones,” the state said. “You can still work, you can still talk to your boss, but this just is saying that, when you feel like you’ve hit your boiling point and you can’t do it anymore, you’re able to disconnect and decompress for a while.”
France also made international headlines when it implemented its “Right to Disconnect” law in 2017. The country has a mandatory 35-hour work week, and workers have an average of 31 paid vacation days a year.
Italy’s Senate last year approved similar legislation in 2018, many companies around the world are following suit. Volkswagen has implemented servers that automatically shut down outgoing emails between 6pm and 7am each day.
A recent PPS study reflects that burnout is a major issue among South Africa’s top professionals.
The study’s finding were collated from a survey of 5 837 professionals across every major job category – these include law, medicine and engineering.
22% of all respondents felt that they were overworked – citing long hours and staff shortages.
The data also reflects that this means that professionals often take their problems home with them, as 50% of doctors said that they are depressed due to a combination of being overworked, working long hours, and burnout.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has recognised burnout in its Internal Classification of Diseases (ICD). This classification is widely used as a benchmark for diagnosis of various conditions.
This decision was reached during the WHO Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland – which concludes on Tuesday, May 28 – this also displays the progress of the medical community in defining what exactly burnout is.
In the latest update of its list of diseases and injuries, WHO defines burnout as “a syndrome conceptualised as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”
It said the syndrome was characterised by three symptoms:
– feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion
– increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job
– reduced professional efficacy.