The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) has prepared a Code of Practice to give guidance on best practice on the Right to Disconnect which comes into effect today, 1 April 2021. The Code applies to all types of employment, whether an employee is working remotely, in a fixed location, at home. Such Codes are not legally binding in the very strict sense but, very importantly, account is taken of them by the WRC and the Labour Court in the event of claims coming before them for determination. The policy considerations behind the new Code are to do with contractual terms, rest periods, work / life balance, and health and safety. The essential reason for the Code is the fact that employees often feel obliged to respond to work-related issues outside their contracted hours. The Code recognises that there can be legitimate reasons why employees may need to be contacted outside normal hours and that different roles may require employees to be flexible and responsive depending on the service being provided, the needs of customers/clients and so on.
The right to disconnect results in an employee not having to routinely respond to work issues, not being penalised for disconnecting and placing a duty on colleagues to respect their decision to disconnect. Right to Disconnect policies should take account of the particular needs of the business and its employees.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.