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Employee unfriendly electronic equipment

January 17, 2019

Two ubiquitous devices, namely cellphone and laptop, owing their invention to the relatively modern discipline of electronic engineering are bestowed attention in this column in a restricted context of a Private Member’s Bill in the Nation’s Parliament sometime ago proposing to free employees from the tyranny of work-related e-mails and phone calls after working hours and also on holidays. The most uncommon sight in the land nowadays is to see a citizen (virtually in all age-groups) without a cellphone, most of the time stuck to the ear. The other device, laptop, appears to be keeping august company with the first one. The Right to Disconnect Bill, which also includes the proposal to set up an Employees’ Welfare Authority giving employees the right to disconnect from the telephone calls and e-mails outside of work hours without fear or reprisal.

The boss, who calls the shots in the matter of assigning work, spelling out both the tasks to be done and the time-frame for completion, is perceived as unsympathetic by those in lower hierarchy if the workload exceeds the time as stipulated and, therefore, necessitates stay at workplace beyond working hours.

The image of the boss on the part of employees has its multiple ingredients, particularly in our land given the facts of languages, castes, regions, gender, suspicion, allergy, age and so on with respect to the two parties — the boss and the subordinate. The idiom ‘Man doesn’t live by bread alone’ may not gel with the boss in situations that are either unavoidable due to exigencies or deliberate (marked by sadism), given the understanding that employment and livelihood are synonymous. Several studies have revealed that the always connected work culture of our days results in serious health hazards for employees. The pressure of never being able to completely disengage from work results in unmanageable levels of stress and anxiety.

Western countries, wedded to the devices for connectivity, have reportedly resolved the issue of their unfriendly image. Ideally, the example of France bringing in a law that allows employees to negotiate with employers on the question of after-work accessibility sounds like the best way out for all — the boss, the employee and the two electronic devices.

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