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‘Right to disconnect’ is choice of employees —DOLE


By Philippine News Agency

DOLE Sec. Silvestre Bello III / Manila Bulletin

DOLE Sec. Silvestre Bello III / Manila Bulletin

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said it is up to an employee whether they will respond to work-related messages from their employers after office hours.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III noted that the “right to disconnect” or employees disregarding such is, technically, a voluntary engagement between employers and their employees.

“Answering or ignoring texts and e-mails from employers after working hours is a voluntary engagement of an employee, and they are not obliged to respond. The right to disconnect is a choice of an employee,” he said in a statement.

Bello believed that the proposed measure before the House of Representatives might ease burnout and stress of the employees by drawing a clearer line between work and home.

“Employees and employers know that there’s time for connection and so does a time for disconnection. It’s always up for the employees to oblige themselves to work even after office hours,” the DOLE chief added.

But, he noted that completely disconnecting would not apply for certain jobs, and the employers must be the one to implement a policy in accordance with the standards of the labor code, which 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 to work after office hours or compensate them for extra workload,” Bello added.

Quezon City Representative Winston Castelo authored House Bill 4721, which aims to amend the Labor Code of the Philippines.

The bill compels employers “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 DOLE.

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