VW addresses after-hours e-mails

Dec. 23, 2011 at 2:24 PM

BERLIN, Dec. 23 (UPI) -- German car maker Volkswagen says it has stopped bugging its employees with after-hours e-mails, a growing complaint in the workplace.

Volkswagen says it took steps to have its Blackberry servers stop sending e-mails to some of its off-duty employees who had complained. The company stops sending messages 30 minutes after the end of employees' shifts and resumes 30 minutes before the next shift starts, the BBC reported.

"We confirm that this agreement between VW and the company's work council exists," a VW spokesman said without further comment.

"The agreement was received very positively," Heinz-Joachim Thus of the VW workers council told the German newspaper Wolfsburger Allgemeine.

Volkswagen is not alone in hearing from employees who feel their employer is infringing on their personal time with after-hours e-mails, the BBC said.

"It's bad for the individual worker's performance being online and available 24-7," said Will Hutton, chairman of the Big Innovation Center at The Work Foundation. "You do need downtime, you do need periods in which you can actually reflect on something without needing instantaneously to give a reaction.

"Secondly, it has a poor impact on an individual's well-being. I think that one has to patrol quite carefully the borderline between work and non-work.

"So I can see why some firms are taking this action, the problem is that a universal response is impossible ... but certainly we should have the capacity to be opted out of it rather than be opted in."

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