What is the Right to Disconnect?
The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) describes the right to disconnect as “an employee’s right to be able to disengage from work and refrain from engaging in work-related electronic communications, such as emails, telephone calls or other messages, outside normal working hours.”
The WRC’s Code of Practice Right to Disconnect has three main elements:
- The right of an employee to not routinely perform work outside normal working hours.
- The right to not be penalised for refusing to attend to work matters outside of normal working hours.
- The duty to respect another person’s right to disconnect (e.g., by not routinely emailing or calling outside normal working hours).
The Code of Practice makes reference to relevant legislation, namely:
The Organisation of Working Time Act, 1997 – Employers must ensure that their employees receive specified breaks within the day, as well as their daily and weekly rest.
Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, 2005 – Employers must manage and conduct work activities in such a way as to prevent, so far as is reasonably practicable, any improper conduct or behaviour likely to put the safety, health, and welfare at work of his or her employees at risk’. Employees must cooperate with any appropriate mechanism introduced by an employer for the recording of working time.
Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2018 – Employers must provide a written statement of their core terms of employment within 5 days of starting employment, including hours of work, breaks, and holiday entitlements.
The Code of Practice encourages the development, communication, and implementation of a Right to Disconnect Policy and outlines the main elements recommended. These include, that employees are expected to disconnect from electronic communications outside normal working hours and that in some situations it is acceptable for an employee to be contacted outside normal hours, for example in an emergency or an urgent operational requirement.
Antaris recommends a detailed review of the Code of Practice before starting to develop the Policy.
- Irish Statute Book