Even though summer is supposed to be a resting period for teachers, some are still being made to respond to work-related e-mails during this time of the year.
It is an issue Graham Sansone, president of the Union of Professional Educators and advocate of the right to disconnect, feels strongly about.
“Research I conducted a few years ago made it clear that employers are asking their employees to work over and above their official hours by sending them e-mails or messages,” Sansone told Lovin Malta. “Since people now have access to their phones at all times, the classroom or office is no longer restricted to working hours but impinges on their personal time.”
It's unbelievable how schools are still contacting teachers, LSE's & Kge's in the summer months… What happened to our right to disconnect during the summer months?
“Even though teachers are officially on holiday between July and September, we’re still receiving countless emails from various schools – independent, state and church schools alike – requesting us to conduct certain logistical work during the summer months.”
Sansone warned that teachers automatically shift to work mode as soon as they receive such e-mails and that they feel social pressure to respond to them. Ultimately, this means they are being less time to rest.
“We should respect the resting time of our employees, and the summer months is when educators recharge,” he said. “Yes, many still prepare work in the summer months but it is unacceptable for schools to send them emails which give them deadlines to respond. They’re encroaching on their personal time and the union considers it unacceptable.”
He urged the Maltese government to follow the example of France and other European countries and enshrine the right to disconnect in the law.
“It’s not only during the summer months; countless members have complained to me that they’re receiving emails in the middle of the night and are expected to have read them the following morning. We shouldn’t be expected to be on our phones 24/7 and employers should respect that employees have the right to spend time with their family members.”
“Unfortunately, we’re a generation which wants instant gratification, instant answers and replies, but people are realising that this is an issue and it’s starting to annoy them. Employers must respect that there are times when their staff are unavailable.”