What is the Right to Disconnect?

According to the new Code of Practice produced by the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC); “The Right to Disconnect refers to 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 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).

While the Code itself might be new; it does not impose new obligations or afford new rights to employees or employers. At its simplest, it is a practical guide for employers and employees to comply with requirements detailed in existing legislation, namely;
The Organisation of Working Time Act, 1997
The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, 2005
Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2018
Terms of Employment (Information) Acts, 1994–2014.

At its heart, the Code seeks to guide and support employers and employees to navigate the ever-changing complexities of the modern workplace driven by technology, social, economic and environmental issues; to create a culture where employees feel they can disconnect from the workplace. To do this ; employers are encouraged to use a collaborative approach to engage with employees and union representatives to draft a ‘Right to Disconnect Policy’ that takes account of the operational needs of the business, the workforce and relevant legislation. The Code places the onus to comply on the employer but also references the obligations placed on employees; it is advised that these feature in any Right to Disconnect Policy.

Read the full code here