Workers have right to ‘disconnect’ – DOLE

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EMPLOYEES have the right to “disconnect” or disregard work-related communications after office hours, the Department of Labor said on Wednesday.

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Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello 3rd said employees who ignore work-related emails or texts after working hours should not be subjected to disciplinary action.

“Answering or ignoring texts, emails from employers after working hours is a voluntary engagement of an employee, and they are not obliged to respond or not,” Bello said.

Quezon City Rep. Winston Castelo filed House Bill 4721 that aims to amend the Labor Code of the Philippines to draw the line between work and home.

Under the bill, employers are urged “to establish the hours when employees are not supposed to send or answer work-related e-mails, texts, or calls,” and the conditions and exemptions in line with it, subject to rules provided by the Department of Labor and Employment.

However, Bello admitted that complete disconnection is unrealistic to some jobs.

Still, employers are required to abide with the labor code and implement a policy that will benefit both parties.

“It’s the employers’ own assessments and evaluations to reduce out-of-hours work. They either implement policy that will prevent their employees from working after office hours or compensate them for extra workload,” Bello said. Micah Vardeleon

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