Do we need a law to mandate work-life balance?

Do we need a law to mandate work-life balance? In this episode, I discuss the “Right to Disconnect” bill being debated in New York City. Essentially, it says workers should not be required to answer emails or respond to work-related texts after official business hours. I also share insights from similar laws and business processes from around the world. Is this the future of work for the United States? If so, how will reducing work hours affect the bottom line? Tune in for a very interesting episode!

 

PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

Hi, I’m Jim Stroud and this is my podcast.

Finding a work-life balance, no pun intended, is a work in progress. And in a world where your work can follow you anywhere, finding this balance is becoming increasingly more difficult. Compared to the 38 countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the US comes in at number 30 for work-life balance. A couple of the reasons it is so low is because 11.4 percent of Americans work 50 or more hours per week, while they spend 11.4 hours for leisure and personal care daily. That’s a quote from Small Business Trends which coincides with some data from RescueTime, which is a software solution that helps you find work life balance by blocking distracting sites and giving you in-depth reports on exactly how you spend your time on digital devices. Here are a few of their statistics:

  • 28% of workers start their day before 8:30 AM (and 5% start before 7 AM)
  • 40% of people use their computers after 10 PM
  • 26% of work is done outside of normal working hours
  • 1% of our day is spent multitasking with communication tools

A lot of companies talk about work-life balance but based on the statistics I cited, maybe there should be a law mandating work-life balance. Actually, there is a bill being proposed in congress right now that may do that very thing. If it becomes law, how will that affect the future of work? I debate it after this special message.

According to Wikipedia, “The right to disconnect is a proposed human right regarding the ability of people to disconnect from work and primarily not to engage in work-related electronic communications such as e-mails or messages during non-work hours.” In March 2018, a “right to disconnect bill” was introduced before the New York City Council and is still under consideration at this point. If it were to pass, it would be “the first workers’ rights law of its kind in the United States — and would force many New York City employers to reevaluate their policies and culture.” Here’s a news clip talking about it. {Play the first 45 seconds}

I link to the bill in the show notes, available on JimStroud.com. But here are some interesting details within the fine print.

  • Employers can’t require employees to “access work-related electronic communications” outside of normal work hours; so when it comes to emails, text messages, or Skype or any type of electronic communications, the boss can send what they want but again, the worker is not required to respond.
  • No retaliation: Employers can’t punish employees for exercising their right to disconnect.
  • Should an employer require an employee to answer an email after hours (or some other electronic communication) they would face a fine of $250.
  • If an employer disciplines an employee—but doesn’t fire the employee—for failing to access off-hours work-related emails or texts, the employee would receive any lost wages and benefits plus $500 and other “equitable relief as appropriate” (in the case of an unlawful termination, that penalty would rise to $2,500).
  • Employers would also be subject to civil penalties payable to the city of New York if they violate the right to disconnect — up to $500 for the first instance and, for subsequent violations that occur within two years of any previous violation, up to $750 for the second and up to $1000 for each additional violation.

I imagine most of the people listening would be in favor of this type of law whereas others, would be curious as to how this affects the bottom line. Well, if hours were reduced, work productivity would likely increase. Case in point, Microsoft Japan generated a lot of buzz recently with one of their experiments. Check out this quote from ThomasNet.

“Japan has long been renowned for its intense work culture that places punishingly high expectations on employees. Extreme levels of work-related stress and exhaustion, which in some cases resulted in suicides, strokes, and heart failure, became so widespread that in the late 1970s a new word, karōshi, was invented – literally translating to “death by overwork.”

This makes it especially interesting that Microsoft recently trialed a four-day workweek in Japan. The summer project, part of Microsoft’s Work-Life Choice Challenge, saw its Japanese offices closing each Friday in August, the implementation of a 30-minute meeting limit, and employees being encouraged to reduce time spent replying to emails.

The experiment aimed to improve work-life balance, boost workplace creativity, and encourage flexible working. Resulting in a 40% productivity boost compared with August 2018, it was considered a huge success; Microsoft has plans to repeat the project in Japan this winter.”

Other countries have been experimenting with “right to disconnect” bills, in one way or another; even making it a law in some instances. I’ll share some examples after this.

City Councilman Rafael Espinal (D), who introduced the “right to disconnect” bill, based it off a similar workers’ rights law in France, which applies to companies with more than 50 employees. To quote from their law, “…the employee is under no obligation either to accept working at home or to bring there his files and working tools”. In 2004 the Supreme Court affirmed this decision and ruled that “the fact that [the employee] was not reachable on his cell phone outside working hours cannot be considered as misconduct.” And FYI, France has had a 35-hour work week since 2000.

Here are a few more examples

In the Philippines, House Bill 4721 was introduced to the Seventeenth Congress of the House of Representatives of the Philippines in January 2017. The long title of the proposed Act is “An act granting employees the right to disconnect from work-related electronic communications after work hours.”

In Italy, Senate Act #2233-B has become law and inside of it is this quote, “The agreement also identifies the worker’s rest periods as well as the technical and organizational measures necessary to ensure that the worker is disconnected from the technological equipment.”

And while Germany does not have any laws related to right to disconnect, German companies have a have a history of implementing policies along these lines.

  • Volkswagen implemented a policy in 2011 stating that it would stop email servers from sending emails to the mobile phones of employees between 6pm and 7am.
  • In 2013 Germany’s employment ministry banned its managers from contacting staff after hours as part of a wider agreement on remote working. It was done in order to protect the mental health of workers.
  • In 2014, automobile company Daimler introduced a software called “Mail on Holiday” that its employees could use to automatically delete incoming emails while they were on vacation.

Okay, in consideration of this trend, I predict that the gig economy will continue to boom. Why not? If companies are going to reduce work hours as a cultural initiative or to be compliant to a law, productivity levels must be maintained. And although I believe productivity would increase as workers embrace more flex time, I must wonder if it will be enough to meet overall company demand. If not, gig workers will be more needed than ever to pick up the slack. Take recruiting for example, how many more HR freelance jobs would post the day after a “right to disconnect” bill becomes law? For that matter, are you familiar with HR Lancers? If not, check it out, as soon as working hours decrease, expect more websites like it.

 

MUSIC IN THIS PODCAST BY:

♫Music By♫ ●DJ Quads – Dreams – https://youtu.be/SrJD8nC_kLM ●Soundcloud – https://soundcloud.com/aka-dj-quads ●Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/djquads/ ●Twitter – https://twitter.com/DjQuads ●YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/user/QuadsAKA

Chill Day by LAKEY INSPIRED https://soundcloud.com/lakeyinspired Creative Commons — Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported — CC BY-SA 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/b… Music provided by Music for Creators https://youtu.be/0WQBUiO1-SA

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Exoskeletons are the Future of Work

Science fiction is now science fact as exoskeletons become common in the workplace. Plus, automated cashierless convenience stores are picking up steam which causes Jim to react with a profound prediction. Finally, don’t upset the Canadians as Jim finds out the hard way. Tune in for a very interesting episode of “The Jim Stroud Show.”

Subscribe to my blog now so you don’t miss out on future episodes. And be sure to reach out to me if you know of opportunities that might interest me. Thank you in advance.

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Resources related to this podcast:

Layoffs, Salaries and Sex in Second Life

The Retro Lounge Podcast Series

[Original air date: 11.22.08] In this retro lounge episode:

“Karen is all doom and gloom about the economy, while Jim looks for the silver lining for Recruiters suffering from the econoclypse (get it? like the apocalypse?); by referring them to different industries to recruit for. Or at least Jim tries to, Karen won’t let him speak. Plus, Jim and Karen discuss a rather bizarre, sad, but true story of sex in Second Life. It seems that even in a recession, there is at least one industry that is still doing well. (Guess which one it is.) All this and more in your favorite Recruiting podcast – The Recruiters Lounge.” Umm… “The Retro Lounge,” that is.

Will increasing workplace automation trigger decreasing salaries?

If automation can eliminate certain tasks for a certain worker by X percent then, should that worker have his compensation reduced accordingly? I debate the issue in this episode.

This podcast is based on an article I wrote and published previously. All the resources and quotes cited in the podcast can be found therein.

Music in this podcast:

chill. by sakura Hz https://soundcloud.com/sakurahertz
Creative Commons — Attribution 3.0 Unported — CC BY 3.0 Free Download / Stream: http://bit.ly/chill-sakuraHz Music promoted by Audio Library https://youtu.be/pF2tXC1pXNo

Longing – Joakim Karud ( Casey Neistat Vlog Music – Chill )

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► Music Credit: Joakim Karud Track Name: “Clouds” Music By: Joakim Karud @ http://youtube.com/joakimkarud

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I Spy for the EEOC

The Retro Lounge Podcast Series

This episode, entitled “I Spy for the EEOC,” originally aired July 25, 2006. And this was the episode description:

Jim Stroud and Karen Mattonen discuss the legalities of buying a company directory, give props to Linked In and discuss the work of “testers,” phony job applicants on the hunt for discriminatory practices. (Bad companies beware!) And did you know that resume writers have to be bonded? Tune in for a very interesting episode.

ABOUT THE HOSTS

Karen Mattonen specializes in helping navigate both buyers and sellers through the buying and selling process! She believes in using dedication to her clients to help educate both buyers and sellers through the home buying process, allowing them to make more informed and confident decisions. Karen has a passion to exceed expectations, by utilizing her strong negotiation skills, her capacity for empathy, and her strong integrity, energy and dedication to help achieve the most positive outcome for her clients. After several very successful personal real estate transactions over the years, Karen transitioned from Headhunting/HR, which also included recruiting and Training of Individual Team Realtors, to building her own Professional Real Estate Career.

Prior to real estate, Karen had developed a positive reputation as a successful recruiter and Trainer who owned and operated several successful Recruiting/HR and Training business ventures. Karen takes a different approach to real estate, one that is built on personal touches, win-win deals and positive results. Karen Mattonen utilizes the latest technologies, market research and business strategies to exceed your expectations. More importantly, she listens and that means she finds solutions that are tailored to you!

Find Karen at www.northcountyhomepros.com

Over the past decade, Jim Stroud has built an expertise in sourcing and recruiting strategy, public speaking, lead generation, video production, podcasting, online research, competitive intelligence, online community management, and training. He has consulted for such companies as Microsoft, Google, MCI, Siemens, Bernard Hodes Group and a host of start-up companies.

During his tenure with Randstad Sourceright, he alleviated the recruitment headaches of their clients worldwide as their Global Head of Sourcing and Recruiting Strategy. Moreover, Jim Stroud has created and sold four online properties, authored five HR related books and hosts the popular online video series – “The Jim Stroud Show.” His latest project – “The Jim Stroud Podcast” explores the future of work, life and everything in between. More details highlighting his career and industry influence can be found on his blog – JimStroud.com. Subscribe to it now.

As the VP, Product Evangelist – NA for ClickIQ, an award-winning automated job advertising platform, his duties focused on business development and product evangelism. Now that ClickIQ has been acquired by Indeed.com, Jim is open to new opportunities.