German Labor Ministry Bans After-Hours Email (Internally)

Can you imagine?

Germany’s labor ministry has banned managers from calling or emailing staff out of hours except in emergencies. The ministry says the measure is intended to prevent staff from suffering undue stress by being constantly on call.

Daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported Friday that the ministry is following the lead of major German companies such as automaker Volkswagen and Deutsche Telekom.

The newspaper cited official guidelines stating that no staff should be penalized for turning off their cellphone or failing to pick up messages after working hours “to prevent self-exploitation.”

NB: this is not a nationwide policy mandated by the German Labor Ministry — it’s just an in-house rule for the ministry itself. Their managers, not all managers in Germany, although that would be amazing.

I still think it sets a nice tone! I have definitely sent and received some ill-conceived late-night work emails in my day. SAVE AS DRAFT. I need to paint that on the wall over my desk.

And while sometimes there’s a perfectly good reason to send a weekend email, the expectation that an employee can be reached at any time is — certain jobs aside — THE PITS.

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