Although the proliferation of electronic communications has ushered in fantastic benefits - agile working being perhaps the most obvious - it does have its downsides.

Today, employees have constant remote access to their work, and with this comes the inevitable and tacit pressure to always be "on-call".

This omnipresence of work in modern life, facilitated by new technology, has a demonstrable impact on an individual's health. A 2017 Bupa survey showed that over 51 per cent of workers were kept awake at night by occupational stress. Similarly, the Australian government has found a link between increased working hours and poor mental health, drawing a correlation between anxiety or depression and the hours one worked.

Consequently, the law in certain European countries has already acted to introduce the possibility of a ‘right to disconnect' for employees. As of 1st January 2017, all organisations in France with 50 or more workers have been obliged to put in place measures to regulate the use of electronic communication devices, in order to safeguard employee access to a stable work/life balance. As a result of this new law, the French wing of the British firm, Rentokil Initial, was recently ordered to pay €60,000 to a former employee for failing to respect his ‘right to disconnect' from his phone and computer outside office hours. What is more, other European countries are following suit: recently a businesswoman in Ireland was awarded £6,750 for being required to reply to emails outside office hours.

There is no UK equivalent law as of yet and implementing the law will be far from easy. Lawmakers must ensure the ‘right to disconnect' does not become a tool for obliging employees to work at given times out-of-hours. Further, the law must not be used as a means for employers to pile excessive pressure on to employees to finish all of their work by 17:30 sharp. In addition, lawmakers must take into account that ‘right to disconnect' law could spur a new workplace dynamic, in which employers feel obliged to punish those who login when they are supposed to be disconnected under the new law.

However, as stress levels continue to rise, and with the success of the French system unfolding, it is surely not a question of if but when British law decides to introduce a ‘right to disconnect'. The positive impact of a ‘right to disconnect' is axiomatic. Importantly, the law will both safeguard against employee burnout, and implicate those employers that were unable to reach agreement on the right to disconnect. It will also mean more time for parents to spend with their children and loved ones, and for all individuals to uphold a healthy work/life balance.

Regardless of precisely when British law acts to safeguard employees from the over stimulation of work in this hyper-connected age, it is the responsibility of all employers to act immediately to protect the health and wellbeing of workers.

Sarah King, is a specialist employment lawyer at Excello Law and author of The Evolution of Work: Employment law issues for 21st Century Businesses