back to article Australia passes Right To Disconnect law, including (for now) jail time for bosses who email after-hours

Australia last week passed a Right To Disconnect law that forbids employers contacting workers after hours, with penalties including jail time for bosses who do the wrong thing. The criminal sanction will soon be overturned – it was the result of parliamentary shenanigans rather than the government's intent – and the whole law …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Of course jail time for bosses won't stand. Consequences for C-suite? Snowflake's chance in hell if it's about anything but stealing money from rich people!

    1. Catkin Silver badge

      I'd be amazed if anyone from the C-suite actually sent an individually directed email to the unwashed after hours or at all. It would be the middle managers taking the hit.

      1. EBG

        Yup

        the c-suite are the ones who put the middle managers in an impossible position so they "have to" contact out of hours. That's the problem with the "jail 'em" approach. Better to fine the tits off the company.

  2. Sora2566 Bronze badge

    I didn't know this was going through my parliament, but I'm proud to have found out.

    Already wasn't going to vote for the other mob, but they'd certainly have lost my vote if they really want to repeal this.

    1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      The coalition has a snowflake's chance in hell of winning the next election if they make repealing this their platform, it's so breathtakingly out of touch.

      Labor will barely have to lift a finger, much like the John Howard billboards in 2007.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Peter “Potato Head” Dutton is morphing into Donald Trump Lite.

        The transition appears to be deliberate and methodical.

        1. Khaptain Silver badge

          Would you have preferred that he morphed into a Joe Biden lite instead ?

          1. TheWeetabix

            Is that a trick question, my American fiend?

          2. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge
            Facepalm

            Okay, I'll bite, Biden is infinitely preferable to Trump, but that bar is absolute zero.

            Why on earth do you think we have to choose between emulating those two?

            1. Khaptain Silver badge

              Because one of the two of them will become the next American president.. And regardless of which one gets in the shit is gonna hit the ceiling like never before..

              350 Million people and Trump / Biden is all you get to choose from, it's truly a sad state of affairs.

              1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

                Okay I can see you're a bit confused. This is an article about Australian politics. We don't have to choose between Biden and Trump.

                1. Andy The Hat Silver badge

                  Unfortunately for Britain, our politicians suck various parts of whoever is incumbent in the US, so we do get lumbered without a vote ...

                2. Khaptain Silver badge

                  "Okay I can see you're a bit confused. This is an article about Australian politics. We don't have to choose between Biden and Trump."

                  No I think it is AC that is confused. I merely responded to his post.

                  "Peter “Potato Head” Dutton is morphing into Donald Trump Lite."

                  1. Scott 26

                    in East Australis we say "shit, we are seeing American-style politics here" and we mean Trump-style, not Biden-style.... we've just had change in govt (took 3 parties to form a coalition to get a majority) and each of the three campaigned on some pretty horrific policies (repeal of the smoke-free act???? ffs) and they still got in... and now the huddled masses are whinging "we didn't vote for this...." ... yeah, you did.

                    Back on topic: rushed policy = poor policy. No surprise it's going to be reworked. How was it worded? It was hardly going to be "you sent 1 email 5 minutes after I knocked off for the day... off to jail with you!" shirley! And as others have said: it's not going to be the top that cops it, even though they are responsible for creating the culture that requires middle managers to reach out to staff after hours....

              2. imanidiot Silver badge

                Even worse the rest of the world gets saddled with the choice of those 350 million people and has to deal with the fallout of it. Trump has already stated he wants to practically hand Europe to Putin, Biden would probably achieve similar end goals through bad policy.

                1. Casca Silver badge

                  Ah yea. They are really the same...or not if you have a functioning brain.

                  1. imanidiot Silver badge

                    Am I saying they're the same? I'm just saying the outcome will very likely be the same (Europe will be on it's own). DESPITE very different policies.

        2. Bebu Silver badge
          Windows

          Peter “Potato Head” Dutton is morphing...

          《Peter “Potato Head” Dutton is morphing into Donald Trump Lite.》

          I know a labor MP landed in hot water over the Harry Potter reference but still the nasty in me does think of the gentleman as one of Tom Riddle's horcrux (horcruces.)

          If the interviews in Nemesis are any indication Mr PH is perhaps the least worst of an altogether very sorry lot.

          As for domestic US & UK politics they vanished over the event horizon of sanity ages ago.

          1. Probie

            Re: Peter “Potato Head” Dutton is morphing...

            UK politics decieded to do a remake of Dumb and Dumber

          2. Magani
            FAIL

            Re: Peter “Potato Head” Dutton is morphing...

            "...Mr PH is perhaps the least worst of an altogether very sorry lot.

            A sad indictment of what we've got ourselves into.

            As I once commented about one of my students, "Sets a low standard which he fails to achieve.".

        3. MrDamage Silver badge

          Trump Lite II

          We already had the onion-eating budgie smuggler.

      2. Magani
        Meh

        "The coalition has a snowflake's chance in hell of winning the next election if they keep Dutton as leader, he's so breathtakingly out of touch.

        FTFY

  3. Michael Hoffmann Silver badge
    Meh

    C-Suite solution?

    Mandatory in-office hours from 6am to 9pm! Plus, commute times will be considered uncompensated working hours.

    The peons WILL be shown who's boss, until a new government can be purchased.

    1. Khaptain Silver badge

      Re: C-Suite solution?

      "commute times will be considered uncompensated working hours."

      Your Boss doesn't choose where you live and I presume that you don't work during your commute..

      Now imagine that you were the employer, what rights or privileges would you accord your staff ?

      The only people that complain about working conditions are the those that have no responsibility, as soon as the shoe is on the other foot they change in opinion would be radical.

      1. TheWeetabix

        Re: C-Suite solution?

        A decent manager works to ensure good working conditions for his staff. Same for Union staff. Your premise is ridiculous on its face.

        1. Khaptain Silver badge

          Re: C-Suite solution?

          "A decent manager works to ensure good working conditions for his staff. Same for Union staff. Your premise is ridiculous on its face."

          You're obviously not a manager.

          1. big_D Silver badge

            Re: C-Suite solution?

            I was on leave and forgot to turn off my company phone, as I went to turn it off, I noticed a message from another member of the team asking about an issue with a server I had set up. I gave a quick reply and got an answer from my manager saying, "thank you, now, TURN THAT PHONE OFF and enjoy your leave!"

    2. Bebu Silver badge
      Windows

      Re: C-Suite solution?

      《Mandatory in-office hours from 6am to 9pm! Plus, commute times will be considered uncompensated working hours.》

      06.00 - 21.00 that is 15 hours less meal breaks etc still comes at roughly 7 hours overtime per day.

      In AU the penalty rates would be crippling without thinking about whether state WH&S laws workplace insurance* (eg Workcover) come into play. As they say: "bring it on."

      *The employer's insurance covers the employee's (direct) drive home which after endless 15 hour days might be a bit dodgy all round.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. big_D Silver badge

      Re: C-Suite solution?

      In Europe, that would break maximum allowed working hours per week (48), and at least 11 hours to recouperate between shifts/working-days.

      My employer won't let us use private phones for work (no contact from the company on private phones, no email etc. on private phones) and company phones to be turned off out of hours, we generally leave our phones and laptops in the office, when we go home. Although I sometimes take mine with me, or when I work in home office.

      The only messages we tend to get out-of-hours is when one of the team, including our manager, is ill or has to take a kid to the doctor's etc. and they write a quick note to say that they will be arriving late.

  4. Number6

    My work phone sits on my desk and goes on Do Not Disturb at 5pm. Sometimes I don't notice I've missed a call for several days, I look at it that often.

    However, sending work emails after hours is fine. I do it, because if I want to go do something else in the middle of the day I might be catching up on stuff in the evening to compensate. However, I don't expect a response until the following day, and that's where the line should be drawn. If I notice an email during the evening and it's a two-minute fix then I'll respond, otherwise it can wait until morning.

    Obviously I have a more enlightened employer than some.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I point blank refuse to set up work email on my phone. Once I finish work, I already disconnect. I will respond to a phone call from specific people as I know they will only call if it is a real problem that whoever is on on call cannot fix. If it requires anything more than a simple answer on the phone then I put in an overtime claim. If I am not in a position to respond straight away if I am doing family things then I will respond as soon as I can.

      This already works well with my employer but to have it put into law is great.

      Don't work for free.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        I point blank refuse to set up work email on my phone.

        I do as well, but it has nothing to do with "disconnecting", because I read email if and when I want to. I won't allow any work documents or other privileged information on my personal devices, period, except for a TOTP application I'm required to use for 2FA. That's an exposure I don't need, and there's no way in hell I'm going to let corporate IT install Intune or some other "device management software" on a piece of equipment I own.

        There's the company's stuff, and there's my stuff.

    2. big_D Silver badge

      We can't have company email or other communications tools on non-company devices (also no private data on company devices) and mine is also set to do not disturb at 16:30. The only out-of-hours messages we tend to get, apart from the hundreds of emails from the backup servers, are of the "I have to go to the doctor's tomorrow, so I'll be in late" type.

    3. JT_3K

      I could not support the theory behind this more. Either I've misread or the act of *sending* an email during an employee's off-hours is punishable?

      I'm the first person to loom over my team and tell them to GTFO. I play office linebacker with the execs and refuse to call/contact them during off-hours, I fight their corner at every opportunity and with all the voracity of a scorned mother-lion.

      I however have a brain like a sieve and occasionally email them in off-hours because I need to get it out of *my* head. I make it damn clear they shouldn't be taking emails/calls in off-hours and I don't want them to answer until they're back in (ongoing and in the emails). I've tried to get them to remove work emails from their phones or make them pull-only.

      Surely the beauty of *email* is it's non-time-based and I can drop them an email because *I'm* working late/early/in-another-time-zone and not because they should be?

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Some people apparently have trouble understanding the concept of polling versus interrupts. That seems to include many politicians.

  5. claimed Bronze badge

    Flexi time

    Fucks with the ability for me to take the avo off to go run an errand and make it up on an evening. Some businesses and most governments can only be dealt with Mon-Fri and why the fuck should I take holiday to go renew a drivers license in the USA or complete a house purchase (or take my car to a garage or whatever I want to go and sort at a convenient time that doesn’t interfere with my job)

    As long as this is protection and not an outright ban, that’s good, don’t force people to work weekend to make a sale. I do want to work out of hours sometimes though, when it suits me, and as long as I’m not breaching contract, what is the harm

    1. Bebu Silver badge
      Windows

      Re: Flexi time

      《As long as this is protection and not an outright ban》

      As I understand its a default or baseline.

      In the skilled and better paid occupations this flexibility on both sides is taken for granted on a quid pro quo basis with the implicit understanding its a matter of (professional) courtesy equitably applied.

      In the low skilled, low paid and low security positions 24x7 availability is the default, baseline expectation of employers. It is this inequitable situation along with other imbalances inherent in the 'gig' economy that this legislation seeks to redress.

      Whether it succeeds or not we shall see.

      Generally an employee should still be able to negotiate flexible arrangements including on-call and call-out pay rates and rosters but now there ought to be greater emphasis on balance and fairness.

      FTR: This was a Greens rather than a Labor amendment.

      1. SundogUK Silver badge

        Re: Flexi time

        "In the low skilled, low paid and low security positions 24x7 availability is the default, baseline expectation of employers."

        I have never worked anywhere where this was the case.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Flexi time

          My wife has; her employer would tell her Thursday afternoon that she was needed Saturday morning, and would get very huffy if her answer wasn't an immediate yes. I had a *professional* job where, starting 6 months in, I was expected to work 6 days a week. Despite being told in the hiring process that overtime would be decreasing. In both cases, these were major reasons why we left those jobs.

          1. SundogUK Silver badge

            Re: Flexi time

            And I don't blame you. But this simply isn't a thing in the UK.

            1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

              Re: Flexi time

              And I don't blame you. But this simply isn't a thing in the UK.

              Ha! I had one job for about three months where I had no idea what I was doing until I got there at 8am. Quite often I would arrive at the Leeds depot and be told to report to the Nottingham depot. Impossible to plan, impossible to work out a schedule.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Flexi time

          "I have never worked anywhere where this was the case."

          The fact you are shielded from it doesn't mean it is not a thing. You are just lucky you are in a position not to be exposed to this.

    2. lglethal Silver badge
      Go

      Re: Flexi time

      Look I havent read the exact wording but it seems pretty simple to me. If you're on flex time, and you're working in the evening, i.e. you are actually booking this as workable hours, then of course there is no issue for you. Or your boss.

      However, the moment, you start being asked to do work (answer emails/tetxs, etc.), at times when you will not be paid for it, i.e. UNPAID Overtime. Then your boss will be in the sh&t.

      It seems easy enough, and completely in line with flexible working conditions...

      1. claimed Bronze badge

        Re: Flexi time

        if I email you and you’re not working, am I asking you to do something? What if I ask you to check something but don’t specify a time, assuming you’ll do it when you’re next online? What if I’m in a different timezone and I’m more senior than you but not your line manager? What if I’m running the project you’re on but just a colleague at the same level on the totem pole?

        1. lglethal Silver badge

          Re: Flexi time

          It comes down to work culture. If you email me, I wont know about it UNLESS I login. It doesnt matter when you send it, if I dont know it's there. However, if your Boss expects you to setup a system that notifies you that you've got an email AND expects you to actually login and deal with it, straightaway. This legislation will allow you to tell him to take a long walk off a short pier.

          That's what it comes down to, if the worker feels pressured to be always online, this legislation gives them the power to say No. And it punishes managers that maintain those shenanigans.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Flexi time

          The boss can send an email at any time. However, right to disconnect means that you don't have to read it and respond on your own time. It will be waiting in your inbox when you get into work.

          It is demanding a response when you are outside of work that will be illegal.

    3. Necrohamster Bronze badge

      Re: Flexi time

      "Fucks with the ability for me to take the avo off to go run an errand and make it up on an evening."

      A "right to disconnect" is supposed to prevent your employer from contacting you outside of your 9-5 (or whatever someone's working hours happen to be).

      Your taking time off during the day and willingly making it up outside of your 9-5 isn't the same thing at all, as presumably you can work without your boss's minute-by-minute supervision.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Flexi time

        >Your taking time off during the day and willingly making it up outside of your 9-5 isn't the same thing at all,

        But if a boss is concerned about how he looks in Orange - they might just order a blanket ban on email after 5. And if you do work in the evening and send an email, do you go to the big house?

      2. claimed Bronze badge

        Re: Flexi time

        And if I’m a (not the) boss so sending an email on an evening which I’d normally send in the day? I’m doing my job, but I’m not harassing anyone, just working my own time.

      3. claimed Bronze badge

        Re: Flexi time

        I can indeed work without minute by minute supervision, but I’m also probably going to send an email during *my* flextime. If that goes to a colleague, am I harassing them? If it goes to someone I line manage, am I the boss?

        This is not simple, actually, and fucks with flextime

      4. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Flexi time

        Your taking time off during the day and willingly making it up outside of your 9-5 isn't the same thing at all, as presumably you can work without your boss's minute-by-minute supervision.

        No, it's not at all the same thing. But how is the law going to draw that distinction? The "right to disconnect" laws I've seen so far all fail utterly to do so.

        Personally, I think these are bad laws. They certainly would be for me. I work when I want to work, and I'm evaluated on the results, not on what hours I clock. Yes, that does mean that I have to be available for meetings and the like, so I can't work entirely arbitrary hours; but to a large extent I can do what I like.

        I put in several hours last weekend, because I wanted to; there was a problem I was chasing, I'd done the work on the house that I wanted to get done, I'd spent some time reading for pleasure, and a bit of development seemed like a nice change of pace. The last thing I want is some idiot law restricting when I can work, or for that matter when my coworkers and managers can work.

    4. rafff

      Re: Flexi time

      " take holiday to go renew a drivers license in the USA or complete a house purchase "

      Move to a jurisdiction where all these things are done online or on the phone. No face-to-face needed.

      1. claimed Bronze badge

        Re: Flexi time

        Didn’t say face to face, if you’re sitting on the phone or filling out forms online then that is interfering with your work

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: Flexi time

          And here in the US (at least in all the states I've lived in), a driver's license has a picture of the holder, and you have to show up in person to have that taken. They're not going to let you upload a photo and take your word that it's you.

          Similarly, doctors are often strangely stubborn about seeing people in person for things like routine examinations and treating injuries. Those pesky dentists won't let you just upload your teeth. The unenlightened courts have yet to let jurors Zoom in. GP's contention is prima facie stupid.

    5. Scott 26

      Re: Flexi time

      > why the fuck should I take holiday to go renew a drivers license in the USA

      or vote!

      WTF are elections held on a Tuesday?

      Oh yeah... religion .... and historically long travel times

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Flexi time

        "WTF are elections held on a Tuesday?"

        They are not. They are held over a period of time. I received my ballot for the election to be held on March 5th, by mail, last Wednesday (Feb. 7th). I can fill it out and return it several ways between now and the close of polls. Counting of ballots begins at close of polls on Election Day, which is on a Tuesday for historical reasons, as you point out. Not that anyone gives a fuck, they could start counting at High Noon on the following Sunday and I'm sure that only the usual batch of religious whackjobs and other bellyachers would bitch about it.

        With that said, employers in California are required to give 2 paid hours off for employees to go to the polls on so-called "election day".

        As a side note, last time I renewed my driver's license, it was online.

        I am in California, which last time I checked, was still in the USA.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh no

    I seem to have left my work phone in my desk again!

    Not to worry, it will still be there tomorrow morning.

    Eventually, I simply handed my work phone back and said I no longer needed it.

    The boss didn’t really have an argument.

    You want my private mobile? No, only HR have that for emergency purposes.

    1. My-Handle

      Re: Oh no

      In the last job I had, I did actually trust my manager and the director with my personal number. Neither abused it.

      Ironically, the only one who ever did was Head of HR. No idea where she got my number from, but she wanted me to amend a new job ad on a Saturday morning because she forgot to mention it on the Friday. The message got ignored. The email she also sent got replied to on the Monday, politely but firmly stating that non-emergency stuff would be dealt with in working hours only. I think I let her request hang for an extra day, just to make a point.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Oh no

        For years I had my private number in my email signature (for internal email only). I think I might have received three or four work-related phone calls, total, over the several years it was there.

        I answer a lot of technical questions in other media — email, newsgroups, chat, and even at-work voice and video calls. But on my personal phone? Almost never. Just not part of the corporate culture here, I guess.

        Mileage varies, obviously.

  7. DS999 Silver badge

    That seems a little extreme

    There's nothing wrong with bosses emailing you after hours, what's wrong is them expecting you to act on that email before you start work the next day. Besides, what's "evening" if you work for an international company? Would I have to check if the person I'm emailing is in Australia and only send them emails during THEIR working hours? That seems a little screwed up.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: That seems a little extreme

      This new law is focused on preventing unscrupulous bosses from forcing employees to work extended hours for no compensation, giving those same employees the right to say no with no penalty.

      If you have agreed upon contracts with your Australian employees for after hours contact e.g. On-call or Hourly remuneration, ... then you can ring them and there is no issue.

      If you don't have agreements to provide remuneration then this new legislation gives the Australian employee the right to ignore your middle of the night phone calls/emails until they start their regular contracted hours the next day and cannot be disciplined for doing so.

      The legislation is supposed to contain exceptions for emergency and shift rostering contacts, it will be interesting to see if the legislation ever gets tested relating to something like home how many 'emergencies' can occur in a month.

    2. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

      Re: That seems a little extreme

      The challenge with letting bosses email you outside of working hours is that it creates a psychological pressure to respond; whether the boss "requires" it or not. In some cultures <cough>USA</cough> employment is generally considered to be 'at-will', meaning they can theoretically let you go for pretty much any, or no, reason. Under these circumstances, people may feel that even though the boss doesn't say I need to respond, I must do otherwise I might not have a job tomorrow.

      1. DS999 Silver badge

        Re: That seems a little extreme

        I can understand that, but unless you have everyone working the exact same hours (say goodbye to flexible working arrangements) it seems impossible to enforce "no emailing outside working hours" as opposed to "no requirement to check emails outside working hours".

        Long before WFH became normalized there have always been bosses who play the "who's first in the office" game who send you emails at 6am. I certainly never felt any pressure to check them. I was sleeping, so I had no way of knowing he sent them. I have never had my phone send audible alerts for email and the crazy people who start work at the buttcrack of dawn (not limited to bosses, mind you) is one of the reasons why!

        It could be enforced with a setting in email clients that let you tell it your working hours, and it simply doesn't notify you of any received emails outside of that time. If the standard corporate email client had that functionality, the bosses couldn't hold an expectation for employees to read/respond to emails they were not notified of. It would be equivalent to the boss' email client holding his evening/night/early AM messages until his "working time" began at which point they'd be sent.

      2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: That seems a little extreme

        And this is precisely the fatal flaw of these laws. Either they prohibit contact outside of some parameters, which is detrimental to people who want flexibility; or they don't, and they're toothless.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: That seems a little extreme

          Nope, wrong, new legislation does not preclude 'emergency' contact outside of normal rostered hours, just contact deemd mundane and repetative or coercive that has been rebuffed by the 'Employee' ...

          The Intent is to stop Middle Managment types from deliberately disadvantaging employees who have rightly turned off thier phone/device after thier nominal paid hours of work.. picture Truckie 'A' stopped for mandatory rest having to field bitchy vendictive 'Boss' man habit calling about unimportant mundane BS, in that time he is supposed to be 'resting', so he can effectively effectively stop 60+ tonnes of 'B' double truck from smearing some pedestrian into a future piece of tarmac.

          The legislation is so the employee can't be held to a account or badgered, or have his employment threatened by shit for brains micromanagment boss, for turning off his mobile/device in his hours of rest, and thus be unreachable.

          This does *not* preclude relevant or important emergency calls like 'Your truck has a safety recall against it and is not safe to drive, park it till we have more infol' type phone calls ...

          BTW, the usual minimum award between shift in Aus is 10hrs. It's illegal to commence work in less than 10 hours after your last paid hours of shift under most employment awards...

        2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

    4. rajivdx

      Re: That seems a little extreme

      Just to clarify:

      1. The new laws do not ban your employer from emailing, texting or calling you after hours - it gives you the right to ignore them unless your job requires you to. For example if you're a paramedic or fireman on call.

      2. The intent of the law is that if you do any work after hours, you should get paid for it. Your boss canot expect to call you on the weekend and have you do unpaid work - you can choose to answer the call and do the work if you wish to, or you can choose to ignore the call/email/text unless your contract requires you to act on them.

      3. Your employer will not be jailed for sending you a text message. They will only get penalized if they fire you or otherwise punish/reprimand you for not answering your phone/email/text after hours when your contract does not require you to. If that happens you can report your employer and they will be banned from contacting you after hours, and if they persist then they will be penalized which may include jail time.

      4. The law is expected to be amended so point 3 above is no longer a criminal offense, but they can still be fined.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: That seems a little extreme

        Good luck to any employee attempting to prove #3.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It’s simple really

    Are you an executive? No

    Are you currently at work? No

    Are you currently on call? No

    Are you currently being paid? No

    Have you agreed to be contacted out of hours? No

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It’s simple really

      You setup server monitoring and it emails you at 5:01 to say a build failed = jail ?

      You email a colleague in another office and forget that X doesn't so daylight saving and it's 5:30 there = jail ?

      You email to say you're going to be late for an 9:00am meeting, you send it at 8:59 = jail ?

    2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: It’s simple really

      Are you currently at work? No

      Physically? I work from home, so yes.

      Oh, is "at work" a mental state? I think about problems at all hours, when they bubble up into my consciousness. I've dreamt the solutions to tricky problems (an experience I expect a number of Reg readers have had). And resolving those problems is essentially my job description. So, yes.

      Are you currently being paid? No

      Er, yes. I'm salaried. I'm being paid all the time.

      Have you agreed to be contacted out of hours? No

      I realize this is a difficult concept, but it's possible to make email non-interrupt-driven. Then it's only "contact[] out of hours" if you choose to poll it.

      Hmm. Perhaps it's not simple. Really.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Switching off

    I'm good at switching off the work phone, not so good at switching off the brain.

    Whenever I have several days off, I'm anxious about just how much work I'll come back to and how stressful the first few days will be.

    Not enough staff and/or give the good people more work at syndrome.

    1. lglethal Silver badge

      Re: Switching off

      Honestly AC, if your job is causing you stress like that on your days off, for your own health, you need to be looking for another job. That's very much the situation that will lead to an early heart attack and an early grave.

      If your company/Project cannot handle you taking the minimum number of days off without having the work pile up, then your project is under-resourced (in that wonderful management speak). If management are not willing to address the problem, then you need to address it for the sake of your own health. And that's done by moving elsewhere.

      Always remember, you wont get any reward for doing all that extra work. At best you will get a small bonus. Your boss will get a bigger bonus for keeping costs lower by not employing another worker. His boss will get an even bigger bonus. So whilst you do the work that will put you with one foot in the grave, you won't be getting the biggest reward. Reward yourself, and find a better workplace. You'll likely get a pay rise by moving companies anyway.

      And yes, I am aware that it's not always easy to find a new job, in the same area, especially when you have family, kids in school, a house, etc. But at least begin looking elsewhere. And if your boss happens to find out that you're looking elsewhere, maybe you will get the additional resources so that you dont burn out... It's worth the hassle, to lose the anxiety, and get your life back...

  10. Necrohamster Bronze badge
    Stop

    Work-life balance and other considerations

    Don't use employer-provided devices outside of your working hours. They're not personal devices, stop treating them like they are.

    Don't configure your personal devices to access corporate email, Teams, OneNote, SharePoint, or whatever. You don't want to be pinged at all hours of the day and night, and you *definitely* don't want the contents of your personal device to be scrutinised in the event of legal discovery.

    Don't allow your employer to put your personal devices on corporate MDM. If your employer requires you to receive work-related communication, let them provide a dedicated device that they pay for.

    Configure your personal devices to block or silence calls from your boss. Your employer shouldn't call you on your personal number except in a dire emergency. And no, staffing issues or the location of the coffee machine filters aren't dire emergencies.

    These things might help you achieve a work-life balance.

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Work-life balance and other considerations

      Don't use employer-provided devices outside of your working hours.

      Here's an idea: don't tell me what to do, kid.

  11. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    Only once had that problem

    One manager called me in the middle of the night for an urgent call out, but I was only half awake and fell asleep again - in fact I don't actually remember the call at all. The following day I arrived at work and there was pandemonium. When nobody turned up the customer didn't complain to the manager (who was of course not contactable) but instead complained to the real boss. Manager was nowhere to be found, and I was questioned but not sanctioned in any way. I fairly soon moved on to a much better job, so don't know how things eventually settled down.

  12. imanidiot Silver badge

    Bosses can send me all the mail they want out of hours. I'll be reading, responding to and taking action whenever I get back into work. If you're not paying me, you're not getting my labour.

  13. Steve Kerr

    I've had people email me late in the evenings, beyond 10pm and at weekends and then message/call me 5 minutes later to ask why I haven't responded.

    My general response is, it's outside of working hours and therefore will not be responding until the next working day and tell them if it's an emergency, they can raise an out of hours call and then there's an audit trail and a followup overtime claim for at least an hour - they can then justify the cost of the overtime that I'll be getting!

  14. heyrick Silver badge

    was not the subject of lengthy debate prior to its passage

    What the hell is there to debate?

    " People are cool with being expected to respond to the whims of their bosses outside of their contracted working hours and are expected to begin performing various work related things in their personal time without remuneration (and, depending on the place, possible sanctions if they refuse)... "

    Yes or NO.

    There, that's all the debate it needs. Anything more, this supposed "lengthy debate" would merely be a load of gaslighting bullshit intended to try to maintain the status quo of expecting people to work for free whenever "because the economy" or somesuch. Fuck 'em.

  15. jake Silver badge

    The long-term perspective.

    I hope you're getting paid for all those evening hours ... They add up quick!

    Many moons ago we were given pagers to carry "for emergencies". I turned mine on when I got to work, and off again when I left work. My reasoning was that I wasn't being paid when I was off work, therefor they had no right to try to contact me. Needless to say, management wasn't very happy with my interpretation. They called HR, to get me to see reason or to fire me. HR took my side (!!!). Long and short of it, everybody with a pager wound up with an extra dollar per hour for each and every hour we were required to be on call when otherwise off duty.

    A couple years later a few of us were presented with DynaTacs ... we all said "more money, please". This time, we were compensated $1.75/hr. For awhile there I was collecting for both the pager and the phone. It was quite lucrative, added up to a hair over $18,000/yr in mid '80s dollars. Fortunately Upper Management liked me more than they liked the mid-level idiot who ran our division ...

    Then Middle Management discovered email. Every single last one of us refused to use email out of hours because actually sitting down and typing was entirely too disruptive to our RealLife. That was the end of it ... until the Blackberry made email a telephone thing (yes, I know, there were attempts before the Crackberry, but RIM put the concept on the map, at least for the non-technically inclined). Thankfully, I was already out of the 9-5 loop by the time that happened.

    Daftest thing is that you idiots actually use YOUR OWN EQUIPMENT to do your company's business! WTF are you thinking? If they need you to check your email outside of working hours, Shirley they can bloody well pay for the gear required to do so, right? The entire BYOD thing boggles my mind ... how much money are corporations, world-wide, saving by forcing workers to pay for the privilege of doing their jobs?

    And then there is the actual meaning of "BYOD", to wit "Break Your Own Defenses". One wonders how many emails world-wide are being opened at home as I type that would get the user fired if he printed it out and tried to carry it out of his office at knocking-off time ...

    Suggestion: It's called a 9-5 for a reason. Treat it as such. Leave work at work, even if "work" is a company-issued laptop on your kitchen table. Close it after hours, and LEAVE IT CLOSED until after breakfast tomorrow. Your life will be a lot happier.

    /rant

  16. Hazmoid

    For many years, I was used to being on 24/7 access, being as I was the only IT support on staff and working for a 24/7 organisation. I expected that I would get calls after hours as work paid a premium to make sure I was available. We had an MSP as a backstop that was used when I went on leave. However whenever I have gone to subsequent organisations, I have insisted on a separate phone and PC. These have been turned off when I get home.

    Now I am working for a small ISP I expect calls after hours but they are booked as billable hours.

  17. Vocational Vagabond
    Flame

    Really peeps? .. if nagios bleats in an email at me that the a service is degraded, or SMF has failed this or that, I dont give a rats, till I get in at 8am tomorrow... (Spoiler.. I dont check work email after hours, ever), but then I'm not paid to, and it is not a condition of my employment.

    *unless* I'm paid by agreement beforehand in good $ terms, to respond to that, out of hours, ie: 'specified conditions of work'

    If my Boss ignores the fact he does not pay me to work after hours, bleats at me, repeatedly, after hours, by phone at night, because OOM killed some sodding Java developers pet process, on a server in dev or test, somewhere, and I don't have an out of hours agreement for work, with my employer, then I can use the legislsation in Austraila for that.

    If my Boss is ${dumb}, and continues to bleat after I've said 'no pay, no work', or ignored my statment of 'dont call me after hours', he will cause the org's CFO to pay fines to the Fair Work Ombudsman.

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