Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

06.23 1 Apr 2021


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From today people have the right to disconnect from work and not answer calls or emails outside of working hours.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has signed a new code of practice, meaning employees now 'officially' have a right to a better work-life balance.

The new rules could lead to cases in the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) when there are breaches of the right to disconnect.

It means people have a right to not have to work outside of normal hours; they can't be penalised for refusing to do so; and colleagues shouldn't routinely email or call outside of those times.

It will be up to employers and employees to talk to discuss what normal working hours are defined as, depending on the occupation.

Research over the last year showed lockdown led to a large increase in workers feeling pressure to answer calls, texts and emails 'out of hours'.

Leo 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.”

The Tánaiste has also launched a consultation on new laws that would allow people to request to work from home.

It's hoped the legislation will be passed this year and would give people the right to remain working remotely even after the pandemic is over.

However, the Government says it recognises that remote working "doesn’t work for everyone or for every organisation" and they'll therefore take a "balanced approach" when it comes to the new legislation.

Main image: File photo of Leo Varadkar. Picture by: Damien Eagers/PA Archive/PA Images

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