U.K.: Nearly Half of British Workers Access E-mail During Off Hours

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By Rick Vollmar

July 14—Just over 40 percent of British workers access their work e-mail during off-duty hours, and 35 percent say this adds to their job stress, according to a study released July 7 by employee healthcare specialist PMI Health Group.

Professional pride (cited by 45 percent of respondents) and workload pressure (39 percent) are the principal reasons employees read or send e-mails outside work, PMI found.

“Mobile technology, such as smartphones and tablets, is extending the workplace into employees’ homes and while this offers benefits for flexible working, it can also lead to work-life boundaries becoming blurred,” said PMI Health Group Director Mike Blake. “This is clearly posing a risk to employee mental health, and employers must be mindful of the potential consequences of this, from reduced productivity to stress-related sickness absence.”

Over 80 percent of employees who report they check e-mails outside work hours do so in the evenings, 28 percent while they're on vacation. Younger workers are more likely to check e-mail outside work hours than their older colleagues—48 percent of those aged 25 to 34 do so, just 31 percent of those aged 45 to 54.

“This finding reflects the general use of smartphones and tablets with previous studies showing that the younger generation spend more time online than older individuals,” Blake said.

The research sample was comprised of 582 adults aged 16-64 currently employed full or part-time in the U.K.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rick Vollmar at rvollmar@bna.com

The PMI news release is available at http://www.pmihealthgroup.co.uk/news/news-releases/time-to-switch-off-stress-rises-for-staff-checking-work-emails-o/.

For more information on British HR law and regulation, see the U.K. primer.

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