In the pipeline: A bill that prevents employee burnout

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 30 2017 06:08 PM

A Quezon City lawmaker has filed a bill that grants employees the right to disconnect from any form of work-related electronic communication sent by employers after work hours.

House Bill 4721 by Quezon City 2nd District Rep. Winston Castelo grants employees the right to "disconnect from work-related electronic communications after work hours" when they should be resting, recovering from fatigue, and spending time for themselves and their families.

In an interview, Castelo said many employers as well as employees send text messages or e-mails even outside office hours. 

"Ating sinasabi di na sila ma-rereprimand. Hindi mag-i-impose ng disciplinary action or masususpinde pag hindi sila nagreply o sumagot sa mga text messages outside office hours sapagkat gusto po natin na ang mga empleyadong ito ay makapagpahingang mabuti, to spend their time with their families. Nakikita naman po natin, 8-5, burnout sila. Kung sila mapipilitan pang magtrabaho after 5 p.m. eh ito ay malaking perwisyo sa mga employees," he said. 

Under the proposed amendment to the Labor Code, employees may not be reprimanded, punished or subjected to disciplinary action should they disregard an electronic communication sent after work hours.

The bill also requires employers to establish -- as part of their policies -- the hours when employees are not supposed to send or answer work-related e-mails, text messages or mobile-phone calls. Some exemptions may be allowed subject to the rules and regulations that the Department of Labor and Employment shall promulgate.

In filing the bill, Castelo said 24/7 connectivity has created a problem of undeclared labor as employees are forced to work, although indirectly, beyond work hours responding to e-mails, text messages and calls on mobile phones.

The congressman said while this may increase labor productivity, it has detrimental effects on employees' welfare and well-being. 

Having to answer emails and text messages beyond office hours adds to stress and robs employees of the time they need to to rest and attend to personal and family matters, he said. 

Castelo said the policy will also benefit employers as it would make their employees well rested and more productive and prevent absences, tardiness and sickness.