According to a survey published by BITKOM, the federal Association for Information Technology, Telecommunications and New Media, 66% of German employees can be reached by mobile phone beyond office hours.
But 41% of these employees are not covered by a company or an individual agreement which would define the rules and conditions of their availability. According to BITKOM, this lack of control increases the legal, financial and organizational risks on the companies which have not negotiated any agreement.
The increasing use of mobile devices by employees and not only managers more and more softens the border between working and private time.
This development questions the labor law. Particularly because, as BITKOM survey shows it, many companies have not negotiated any agreement for this new availability yet. BITKOM evaluates consequently that 66% of the German employees are required to be reached with their personnel or company mobile phones outside office hours.
Among them, 32% are even accessible night and day. For the time being, this development has not been taken into account by the German labor law even if the issue of the more or less voluntary duty periods and their payment begins to be more and more at stake before the labor courts.
The BITKOM survey shows that only 22% of the polled employees perform this kind of “duty period” in the framework of a company agreement negotiated between the works council and the management and 34% in the framework of individual agreements between the employees and the employers. Nevertheless, 41% are not covered at all.
“If the employer requires a significant availability, which is not against the law, the employee is on duty”, explained Alexander Greht, expert in labor law, reminding that this period is considered as working time and must be paid.
Besides, a contract is necessary when the employer authorizes the private use of a company device.
As a matter of fact, the German law on data protection provides for that the employer cannot have access to the data belonging to him on a device if this device is meant for private use. This can raise an issue for the company in case of illness. (workersxzcompxzkit)
BITKOM advises the companies to grab the file without bringing up a new “cause of conflict” and to introduce the availability issue from the very recruitment.
Author Rebecca Shafer, J.D. President, Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers’ Compensation costs, including airlines, healthcare, manufacturing, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. She can be contacted at: RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com or 860-553-6604.
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