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Right to digital disconnection, the option for workers not to write to the cell phone

The right to digital disconnect It is the one that employees have to not answer messages, calls, emails, WhatsApp and other types of communications outside of their working hours, leave or vacations. The first country to recognize this right through a regulation was France in 2016.

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In turn, in Spain it is contemplated in the Teleworking Law of 2020. After the pandemic and with the advancement of teleworking, several countries followed these steps and implemented different regulations that aim to regulate the use of communication technologies in order to guarantee respect for workers’ rest time and vacations.

In Argentina, it is guaranteed by Law 27,555. Article 5 mentions that “the employer may not require the person who works to carry out tasks, nor send communications, by any means, outside the working day.” In the case of Colombia, The norm that protects this aspect is Law 2,191, where, in addition to mentioning what this right includes, it is clarified that “the non-observance of the right to disconnection from work may constitute workplace harassment behavior,

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In Peru, digital disconnection is stipulated in Supreme Decree No. 004/2021-TR, which complements the provisions included in Emergency Decree No. 127-2020. There are also fines for companies that fail to comply with this regulation.

In Mexico, this right is also supported, regulated by the Federal Labor Law and the same occurs in Chile, where the text clarifies that “the employer may not establish communications or formulate orders or other requirements on rest days, permits or annual holiday of Workers”.

The benefits

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The digital disconnection is described in the different countries, in general terms, in the same way, beyond the variations that may exist regarding the way of regulating claims and the sanctions that are imposed.

The importance of the existence of regulations in this regard is that they protect a right and as such give employees the tool to assert their need for a digital pause, which, according to different experts, is necessary for health and well-being.

In addition, this health care also pays off for employers because rested workers are more productive; and eventually reduces the expenses that can be produced by the company having members with burn out syndrome.

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“Currently, an important cause of stress as an illness is the misuse of technological objects and the inability to disconnect. Hyperconnectivity, that is, high exposure to screens that connect us day and night with other people through social networks, WhatsApp and countless other tools, makes it increasingly difficult to rest our minds, take a necessary pause, relax and generate our necessary time alone to think. This ends up stressing us by leaps and bounds”, analyzed the María Paula Martínez Psychology, in this note previously published in TechMarkupwhere the problems of hyperconnectivity are analyzed.

The excess of notifications that can be given, both outside and in the workplace, cause attention to be divided into multiple points and this has a negative impact on productivity. If it is difficult to establish blocking times for alerts and warnings during the day, at least there is the possibility of being “offline” outside of working hours. This is what is protected by the right to disconnect from work.

The constant “ring” and sounds of mobile alerts are a distraction but I know, and more so when the user enters to see the message or mail that was received. Upon being notified of a situation, or receiving a request or claim, the person may feel the urgency to respond. This urgency to act, and the stress generated by getting “hooked” on occasional work, can cause different health problems, such as anxiety, which have a worldwide prevalence of between 15 and 20%.

Anxiety disorders can lead to a high level of personal suffering, problems in family functioning, in the couple and in interpersonal relationships. Public Health doctor Ana Carolina Lemos Pereira from the State University of Campinas, Brazil (Unicamp), explained to the portal Folha: “We have observed that people work much more than their stipulated time, either through WhatsApp messages or from the overload of emails outside of working hours.”

Besides, the lack of digital disconnection at work also has a negative impact on productivity. “Just as we take care of meeting spaces, or spaces for personal, spiritual or work development, we also need chosen leisure spaces. When you have leisure, you can also generate different connections that you would not have generated otherwise. Many ideas occur in moments of leisure”, analyzed Martina Rua, author together with Pablo Fernández of the book How to tame your screens.

In this text, the experts emphasize above all the need to establish limits; establish a division between personal and private life and above all, always give yourself a space to be offline.

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