A trade union is demanding that the government ban emails from all employers outside office hours - and it wants emails defying the ban to be automatically deleted.
Prospect - a trade union chiefly representing managers, engineers, scientists and cicil servants - has told the BBC that it wants the government to give employees a legally binding “right to disconnect” and switch off outside work hours.
"While digital technology has kept us safe during the pandemic, for millions of people, working from home has felt more like sleeping in the office, making it harder to fully switch off" Prospect's deputy general secretary, Andrew Pakes, has told the corporation.
The union says such a ban would prohibit employers "routinely emailing or calling" outside set working hours, with emails sent outside agreed hours being automatically deleted to deter off-duty staff from continually checking their inbox.
The Office for National Statistics says that some 25.9 per cent of the working population worked from home for part of 2020, and current government advice across the UK remains for people to work at home wherever possible.
Some UK mental health consultants have suggested employers contact their remote-working staff regularly, in some cases even daily; however, the French government has since 2017 made it mandatory for employers to agree set hours for teleworkers who are entitled to privacy outside the agreed limits.
Earlier this year the business consultancy Deloitte UK - which has itself already announced the closure of four of its 50 offices in this country as a result of increased remote working - forecast that “Business leaders believe the pandemic will permanently change the business landscape. Chief Financial Officers anticipate a five-fold increase in home working relative to pre-pandemic levels by 2025.”
And just this week there NatWest banking group said only 13 per cent of its staff would work permanently from offices in future, with 55 per cent combining office-and-home, and 32 per cent working predominantly from home.
There has been no industry-wide survey conducted of how agency staff will work in future.