By Dr Lindsay McMillan

Australian workers should be given the right to switch off from emails outside of working hours to combat technology-related stress.

Policy-makers, employers and unions must recognise the negative impact that technology-related stress is having on employees, and take steps to improve the work-life balance.

According to my research of more than 1,000 employees last year, almost half of employees agreed that technology brings with it the feeling of being ‘always on’.

One possible solution to this is embracing recent reforms introduced in France, which gives employees the right to disconnect from emails outside of work hours.

The French legislation, dubbed the Right to Disconnect, came into effect on January 1, requiring companies with 50 or more employees to negotiate new out-of-office email guidelines with staff.

Firms now have a duty to regulate the use of emails to ensure employees get a break from the office.

The French solution follows moves made by a number of big companies to let employees completely switch off, with Volkswagen turning off their email servers after work.

As well as legislative or internal policy change, it is vital for employers to buy into this change, and improve the culture of workplaces.

Employers must make their expectations explicit to their employees, and recognise that having a stressed and tired workforce does not benefit them in the long run.

The sooner we move away from the old-fashioned idea that you work until you drop, the better, and it is one of the reasons I have kick-started the a future that works campaign.

The campaign is all about improving workplaces for employees by providing research and strategies that actively tackle the challenges facing the workplaces of 2017.

And the first step workplaces could take to begin 2017 is learn this valuable French lesson.