Jack Quann
Jack Quann

18.14 16 Aug 2019


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The Government is to consider introducing rules around the 'right to disconnect' from work.

Business Minister Heather Humphreys was responding to a question from Kildare TD Bernard Durkan.

She said an Interdepartmental Steering Group is to look at the French approach to the issue.

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French companies with more than 50 workers have to guarantee employees a 'right to disconnect' from their e-mails outside of office hours.

This is seen as a way to reduce stress and improve their work-life balance.

The new laws came into force there in January 2017.

In terms of promoting a better work-life balance, Minister Humphreys said: "My department and I understand the importance of promoting a good work-life balance for employees."

"A number of these ambitions are centred on flexible working solutions which offer benefits for employers, employees and wider society in general.

right to disconnect A woman works on a laptop in a café | Image: Gerald Matzka/DPA/PA Images

"Flexible working encompasses a wide range of practices including part-time, compressed hours, job sharing, home-working and remote working.

"Such solutions allow for tangible benefits for employees including improving their work life balance. It also provides solutions for those who would otherwise take unpaid parental leave but cannot afford to do so."

Research on remote working is also being undertaken by the Interdepartmental Steering Group.

But Minister Humphreys has said she will now ask the group to examine the French model.

"Given the increasing digitalisation of the workforce, I believe it is important from a work-life balance perspective that there are clearly defined guidelines regarding workers' rights to switch off after office hours."

ESRI research from last November found that job stress among employees in Ireland doubled from 8% in 2010 to 17% in 2015.

The study counted an employee as experiencing job stress if they reported experiencing stress at work 'always' or 'most of the time' - and also reported stress reactions, such as general fatigue, anxiety and sleep disturbance.

In terms of stressful sectors, employees in the health sector (18%), public administration (16%) and the manufacturing sector (15%) experienced the highest levels of job stress.

While occupational groups most likely to experience stress were technical/associate professionals (20%), professionals (16%) and managers (14%).


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Bernard Durkan France Interdepartmental Steering Group Ireland Irish Workers Job Stress Minister Heather Humphreys Right To Disconnect Work-life Balance

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