Singapore to implement “Right to Disconnect” law?

Besides reducing the risk of burnout, a "Right to Disconnect" law can also help to improve productivity, argued a Labour Minister in Singapore
By: | October 15, 2020

Just like in France, a “Right to Disconnect” law will help employees in Singapore have protected time to rest and reduce the risk of burnout, said labour minister Melvin Yong.

Yong, who is also the assistant secretary-general of the National Trades Union Congress, has made a proposed legislation and was addressing arguments made against it in parliament on October 14.

He cited France as an example, where employers are required by the law to negotiate the protocol for non-emergency calls and non-critical e-mails outside of working hours with their employees.

French companies have to schedule non-critical e-mails to be sent at 8am the next working day and e-mails sent outside of office hours are usually accompanied with disclaimers that state no immediate response is expected.

“These are certainly not radical practices, but baby steps which we can easily adopt here in Singapore,” said Yong.

To further his argument, he also cited a 2014 study by Stanford University in the United States that found overworking (working beyond 55 hours a week) caused a sharp drop in productivity per hour, and led to more workplace accidents and injuries.

“(These) findings are not unique, and other researchers have found that well-rested employees are more productive, more careful and are better able to contribute creatively at the workplace,” he added.

Besides explaining that a “Right to Disconnect” law will also help to prevent “presenteeism”, which research has found to be detrimental to a company’s performance, he also suggested the Manpower Ministry do an annual survey on workplace mental health, to track workers’ mental well-being and best practices among companies.