Many workers would agree heartily with labour MP Melvin Yong’s proposal in Parliament for a “Right to Disconnect” law that would help employees have protected time to rest and recharge. That right would no doubt help address issues such as burnout and lead to safer workplaces. French legislation, for example, requires employers and employees to negotiate the protocol for non-emergency calls and non-critical e-mails, outside of working hours. That regulatory framework is paralleled by the German practice of “Feierabend”, which describes the time after the work day ends and when rest time begins.
Although there is no evidence to suggest that Singapore workers are at risk of karoshi, the Japanese term for death by overwork, no one would want Singapore to get to the point where occupational sudden mortality would demand official intervention. It would be far better if the need to legislate workers’ need for rest – which could go too far because different industries have different needs – were to be pre-empted instead by companies themselves.