All employees set to have right to disconnect from work from today

Tánaiste to sign new code of practice drawn up by Workplace Relations Commission

The Tánaiste Leo Varadkar is also to invite submissions on his plans to put the right of employees to seek remote working into law.  Photograph:  Julien Behal Photography/ PA Wire

The Tánaiste Leo Varadkar is also to invite submissions on his plans to put the right of employees to seek remote working into law. Photograph: Julien Behal Photography/ PA Wire

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All employees will from Thursday have the right to disconnect from work and have better work-life balance under a new official code of practice, the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise and Employment Leo Varadkar has said.

He said the right to disconnect would give employees the entitlement to “switch off” from their jobs outside of normal working hours, including not having to respond immediately to emails, telephone calls or other messages.

Mr Varadkar will on Thursday sign the new code of practice on the right to disconnect which has been drawn up by the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).

Separately on Thursday the Tánaiste is also to invite submissions on his plans to put the right of employees to seek remote working into law.

The Department of Enterprise and Employment said both initiatives formed part of Mr Varadkar’s overall plan “to create more flexible family-friendly working arrangements, including working from home and working more flexible hours”.

The new code of practice includes:

* The right of an employee to not have to routinely perform work outside their normal working hours.

* The right not to be penalised for refusing to attend to work matters outside of normal working hours.

* The duty to respect another person’s right to disconnect (for example, by not routinely emailing or calling outside normal working hours).

The new code says that while not following its provisions does not in itself constitute an offence under the Workplace Relations Act 2015, the same legislation maintains that in any proceedings before a court, the Labour Court or the WRC, a code of practice shall be admissible in evidence.

It says “any provision of the code which appears to the court, body or officer concerned to be relevant to any question arising in the proceedings shall be taken into account in determining that question”.

Mr Varadkar said: “The code of practice comes into effect immediately and applies to all types of employment, whether you are working remotely or not. It will help employees, no matter what their job is, to strike a better work-life balance and switch off from work outside of their normal working hours.”