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Smartphone addiction may force law on  right to disconnect, says Facebook lawyer

12 Dec 2019 / EMPLOYMENT Print

Phone addiction may force law on right to disconnect, says Facebook lawyer

A daily and working-hours recording system is now a compliance requirement on employers, following a CJEU working-time ruling last May, Facebook’s associate general counsel for international employment, Joanne Redmond, told a recent legal seminar.

Speaking at a Lawyers Against Homelessness CPD event in the Capuchin Day Centre in Dublin 7, Redmond commented that employees in her workplace seek a flexible environment.

However, this recent decision will put much more pressure on employers to comply with working-time laws, she said.

Obligation on employers 

In a detailed ruling, the court ruled that member states are required to impose an obligation on employers to establish an objective and accessible system that keeps a daily record of hours worked.

Spain and Italy have already introduced enhanced legislation around employers’ obligations on recording working time, while Belgium and Germany are to follow suit in 2020.

Redmond said that while working-time directives were notable in Ireland due to their breach rather than their observance, government would feel pressure to implement changes as a result of the ruling.

Focus

She said that while documenting working time was the focus of the CJEU ruling, the real issue was the ‘right to disconnect’.

“France introduced legislation in 2017, and they were the forerunners in this.

“They legislated for the fact that employees have a legal right to log off, out of office hours, and to completely disconnect from emails and work systems,” she said. “There are similar laws to this pending worldwide, in India, Colombia, the Philippines and certain US states.”

Leading way

Redmond said that two car companies, Volkswagen and Daimler, were leading the way on this.

Their email system has been set up so that an employee doesn’t receive emails until half an hour before starting work, as well as logging out automatically half an hour after the working day ends. No emails can be received while on holiday either.

Business minister Heather Humphreys has said that the Government is considering legislation on the right to disconnect.

Joanne Redmond questioned whether legislation was actually necessary to address the issue, but added that smartphone usage in Ireland was the highest in the western world.

Addicts

“We are all addicts, essentially,” she said.

“So, it may be the case that to get away from these weapons of mass distractions, that we do need to follow the French when it comes to this,” Redmond concluded.

Gazette Desk
Gazette.ie is the daily legal news site of the Law Society of Ireland