In a bid to achieve work-life balance, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MP Supriya Sule Tuesday tabled a Private Members’ Bill in Lok Sabha to secure the ‘right to disconnect’, or refuse to reply to a call or e-mail beyond work hours or on holidays.
Sule cited numerous studies that show that employees are faced with a “significant risk of erosion of boundaries between profession and personal life” due to digital communication (read: the ability to work from any location). She said employees are increasingly faced with “telepressure” — the constant urge to check your phone and respond to calls and e-mails. She referred to a study which said “info-obesity” leads to stress, burnout and sleeplessness.
The Bill, introduced in the Lok Sabha on the last day of the winter session, is likely to lapse as it is the last sitting before the general elections.
What is the Right to Disconnect Bill, 2018?
The Bill is to “establish an Employees’ Welfare Authority to confer the right on every employee to disconnect from work-related telephone calls and emails beyond work hours and on holidays and right to refuse to answer calls and emails outside work hours and for all matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.”
It explains that the ‘right to disconnect’ means that while the employer may contact the worker after work hours, the employee is not obliged to reply or shall have the right to refuse to answer such calls. Further, in case an employee refuses to reply any call during out-of-work hours, such employee shall not be subject to any disciplinary action by the employer.
If an employee works beyond work hours — which are mutually agreed — he/she shall be entitled to overtime at the normal wage rate.
Additionally, the Bill states that the government is entitled to provide employees counselling, digital detox centres, and similar resources “to free an employee from digital distractions and enable him to truly connect with the people around him”.