From 1st April 2021, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has signed, with immediate effect, a code of practice on the right to disconnect from work. This guidance applies to all employees, regardless of whether they are working remotely or in an office.
The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) Code of Practice on the Right to Disconnect contains the following rights;
- 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 not routinely emailing or calling outside normal working hours)
However, the code recognises that a policy should allow for occasional situations when it is necessary to contact employees outside of normal working hours. It also recognises that there may be situations which require some out-of-hours work.
This code complements and supports employers and employees rights and obligations under the existing legislation – the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 (OWTA). While failure to uphold a right to disconnect is not a criminal offence, under Irish law a code of practice is admissible as evidence in court.
The Tánaiste has also opened a public consultation on his plans to put the right to request remote working into law.
Written by Michelle Young