There has always been a big debate in the UK about the efficiency of working time and availability of employees. There is, for good reason, often a requirement to have a 24 hour service 7 days per week to ensure service excellence.
However, an alternative approach seems to be taking shape in Germany. German Employment Minister Andrea Nahlea has recently announced that she will be seeking to introduce legislation which will ensure that German employers are banned from contacting their employees out of working hours. She argues that the level of contact with employees out of working hours could lead to further increases in levels of stress and mental illness for employees.
Car manufacturer Daimler recently introduced software which deletes emails for those employees who are out of office on vacation. Already, BMW and Audi have taken a similar stance.
It is already illegal for employers in Germany to contact employees when they are on holiday. It is believed that workers need time to rest and recuperate and being in constant contact with them can have harmful effects on motivation/long term commitment.
Of course, there is no right answer. The British business culture is very different and it is interesting to see that in France there are moves to try and extend the working week and the hours that an employee will be performing their contractual duties whereas in Germany it seems to be the case that the work life balance is going to be more carefully preserved.
It remains to be seen given the potential short term down turn in the economic growth in Germany as to whether this legislation will be implemented but it is certainly an interesting debate.
Employers who have employees in Germany or are even sending employees across to Germany on a regular basis must therefore take heed of this potential new development.
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For more information please contact:
Matthew Yates – Partner and Head of Transport Sector Group
David Gibson – Partner, Employment