After hours emails banned to reduce stress

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Germany’s job chiefs have banned its managers from contacting staff outside working hours, except in emergencies.

Aimed at preventing employees from burning out, the new guidelines state that ministry staff should not be faulted for switching off their mobile phones or failing to reply to messages after work.

The move follows similar regulations on after-work emails imposed by German companies such as BMW, Volkswagen (VW) and Puma.

In the case of VW, its staff stops forwarding emails half an hour after the end of the working day. Other companies have also declared that staff are not expected to check email during the weekends or in their free time.

However, the labour ministry’s rules allow contact only if the task cannot be postponed until the next working day. It said that managers should apply a principle of “minimum intervention” into workers’ personal time and keep the disrupted number of people as low as possible.

Ursula von der Leven, Germany’s labour minister said the rules had been implemented to protect the mental health of its employees.

"It's in the interests of employers that workers can reliably switch off from their jobs, otherwise, in the long run, they burn out," she added.

The new rules come in light of Leven’s recommendation earlier this year for companies to set clear rules over their workers’ out-of-office availability, in which she also warned that "technology should not be allowed to control us."

It's a move that Canadian stress experts approve of. Stress and wellness expert Beverly Beuermann-King said many workers were taking tasks home, or even on vacation, which only increases stress.

“Burnout is a major concern,” Beuermann-King said. She uses the analogy of a car engine – you can’t keep revving it without the necessary maintenance. For employees that meant time at home and on vacation without having to worry about work issues.

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