London: The BlackBerries of German Volkswagen workers will now automatically stop receiving work messages at the end of their shifts.
At many companies, it’s become totally normal for workers to receive and answer emails from bosses and colleagues throughout the night and even on days off.
But the landmark ruling in Germany has changed that, at least for some Volkswagen workers.
Volkswagen’s email servers stop routing messages automatically half an hour after the end of a working day, and will only start again half an hour before the next one.
BlackBerry’s business servers have 500 different options to allow for flexibility - including total shutdown of the handsets, or allowing workers to receive phone calls and personal emails while blocking ones to their business address.
The agreement, with the firm’s work’s council in Germany, could be a landmark for workers tired of being contacted out of hours using the devices.
Several companies already impose a voluntary ban on BlackBerry use out of hours, after alarms about stress and burnout.
Workers often report feeling “phantom buzzes” from their BlackBerries, leading to a feeling of being at work all the time.
“The new possibilities of communication also contain inherent dangers,” the Daily Mail quoted Heinz-Joachim Thrust of VW’s works council as telling the Wolfburger Allgemeine Zeitung.
However, the ruling only affects workers who fall within one specific trade-union-agreed pay bracket.
Management, and other workers, will have to keep theirs on.
It’s unclear what effect the ruling will have on other unionised firms in Germany, the Financial Times revealed.