North Rhine-Westphalia’s labour minister, Guntram Schneider from the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD), said times when employees can be reached on work emails by their bosses should be restricted by the law.
In an interview with the Rheinische Post on Tuesday, Schneider called on the federal government to introduce the law on out of hours contact.
“The employer would no longer be able to contact the employee at certain times,” he said, although he added it would not be possible to restrict contact times in the manner of the "Spanish Inquisition".
His call comes in the middle of the holiday season and surveys each year show employees find it hard to switch off even on their summer break due to constant contact with work on their smartphone.
Germany’s coalition government wrote in their coalition agreement last year that they would improve the “work-life balance” of workers, but no laws surround when bosses can contact their employees.
Jan Jurczyk from Verdi, one of Germany’s biggest unions, told The Local on Monday that they would like to see more companies introduce guidelines on emailing and contacting workers out of office hours, describing it as a “grey area” legally, although he stopped short of calling for legislation to be introduced.
German companies including Volkswagen and Deutsche Telekom have guidelines on contacting employees out of office hours, as does Germany’s Labour Ministry.
“The coalition should raise the issue during this legislative period,” Carola Reimann, deputy chairman of the SPD’s parliamentary group told the Rheinische Post.
Working on an “anti-stress law” would fall to Germany’s Labour Minister Andrea Nahles (SPD).
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