CORRECTION: Ursula von der Leyen's title has been updated to reflect that she is no longer Labour minister.
Experts have called on British bosses to follow the example of the German Labour ministry, which stopped managers from calling or emailing staff outside of work hours, except in emergencies, to save them undue stress by constantly being on call.
Nick Bacon, professor of HR Management at Cass Business School, told HuffPostUK: "German employers and the German government are leading the way on progressive employment practices appropriate for the modern workplace.
"Organisations need to adopt and communicate clear policies to help employees with work-life balance because employees feel they are required by ‘competitive presenteeism’ to always be on-call to help with work-related problems.
"British managers should follow the example of exemplary German organisations in this area if they wish to increase labour productivity and enhance the well-being of their employees."
Ann Francke, chief executive of the Chartered Management Institute and author of "The FT Guide to Management", said: "Good managers know that people will have things like family commitments and simply deserve the chance to switch off.
"Being ‘always on’ is the 21st century equivalent of office presenteeism – a macho way of showing you’re committed to your work – but managers need to be realistic about what the business actually needs, agree what’s reasonable with their team as individuals, and resist the temptation to be constantly sending or checking for messages.”
Ursula von der Leyen made the move last year as Labour minister, laying down "crystal-clear" rules over the use of work-related mobile phones by her own department's staff in a bid to encourage German bosses to follow suit.
"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 said at the time.
"Technology should not be allowed to control us and dominate our lives. We should control technology."
The principles of von der Leyen's "rules for exceptional accessibility outside of individual working times" state that "No one who is reachable through mobile access and a mobile phone is obliged to use these outside of individual working hours."
German's Labour Ministry is not the first major institution to bring in such rules, with Volkswagen, E.ON, Puma, BMW and Deutsche Telekom doing so previously.
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