Right to Disconnect Bill 2018 - Background Context
To help employees perform well and strick in a better way for overall work-life balance and minimize stress from work, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MP Supriya Sule (daughter of Mr. Sharad Pawar) has introduced the Right to Disconnect Bill 2018 (Private Member’s Bill) in the lower house of people, Lok Sabha.
To help employees strike a better work-life balance and reduce stress, NCP MP Supriya Sule has introduced the Right to Disconnect Bill 2018, a Private Member’s Bill, in the Lok Sabha.
Important Features and Highlights of the Bill
The Objective of the Bill
The Right to Disconnect Bill focuses on Reducing tension (stress) and maintaining segregation between employees/workers/labors (public or private) personal and professional life.
- The Bill if approved gives employees the right to not respond or answer to phone calls or any other kind of communications initiated from the employer's office after office/work hours.
- This Bill specifies/mentions the establishment of an Employee Welfare Authority, which is intended to publish/issue or produce the impact of long working hours on employees and the use of digital tools (mobile, computer, etc.) during these hours. This Right to Disconnect Bill 2018 furthermore will produce a charter defining Employee-Employer.
- The Bill demands the establishment of an Employee Welfare Supremacy (Authority), which will issue reports in relation to the effect employees have from extended use of digital tools far off office working hours and it will also produce a charter defining employee-employer conveyance (debate, dialogue, and conference).
- As mentioned in the Bill, organizations with more than ten (10) employees will regularly communicate/dialogue the specific terms with their employees, produce their own charter, and establish an Employee Welfare Committee comprising of representatives of the company’s employee pool.
Concerns and Everyday challenges faced by the Employee pool
- The Work-Life Balance and Dynamic Business demand have become cumbersome but at the same time is the utmost priority. Multinational Companies (MNC) in India attracts many employees with attractive pay packages but this package comes with an added stressful life, anxiety, sleep deprivation, and deadly adverse effect on employees' health.
- These MNC are ruled by corporate Mafias (profit-seekers) who often ask employees to work extra hours without any added compensation. These MNC’s create the situation that indirectly forces the employee pool to work overnights, straight 12 hrs, 14 hrs, 16 hrs, 18 hrs, or sometimes 72 hours shift with the nominal break.
- Many times these workers follow Carrying their work at home culture, which often ends in long working hours session.
- This Always ON work culture often gets unnoticed, cloaked with Increased benefits, Convenience in Place of work, and Promotions.
Need and significance of the Bill
- Being at the workplace (standing or sitting) for eight hours or more is often very stressful for any individual to answer work-related calls after working hours.
- According to some researchers and experts, stress acquired from work often leads to plenty of physical and mental illnesses, anxiety, depression, and hypertension are the ideal candidates. These often go unnoticed and undiagnosed (often due to lack of time to visit physicians), resulting in no coordination and disturbance in work and life balance.
- Thus Right to Disconnect Bill 2018 is looked at as a boon to the employee community working across India.
Efforts in this Regard are already in Practice
- European nations like Ireland, Germany, France, and Norway already have such laws implemented and into practice. France leads the race to set up an ideal example to make provision into their constitution for the Right to Disconnect, it clear-cut mentions, that any employee not reachable after office/working hours through a smartphone is not to be considered as misconduct. Moreover, France has 35 hours as weekly working hours.
- The EUROPEAN UNION (EU) in referendum ruled out in 2015 that time spent in Commute/Travelling (to and from work) is counted as WORK.
- The Kolkata-based company also actualized menstruation leave (two days/month) for its women employees, making its announcement and implementation on the occasion of New Year’s Day.
- The respective Right to Disconnect Bill 2018 is yet to be discussed in the lower house of Lok Sabha. Right to Disconnect being the private bill has the faint possibility because so far approximately 5% of the private bills are ever discussed and debated in the lower house. A report produced by the PRS Legislative Research in the year 2015, mentions that the 13th lower house (Lok Sabha) in the year 2015 discussed nominal close to 5% private bill, the 14th lower house (Lok Sabha) discussed 3% and the 16th lower house (Lok Sabha) debated only 2.85% of such private category bills. Hence to make this Bill a reality and take a shape of the Act, this needs an upper hand and massive support from the private community.