Last week Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has signed a new code of practice which gives people the right to disconnect from work and not answer calls or emails outside of working hours.
People now have a right to not have to work outside of normal hours and colleagues shouldn’t routinely contact them at that time.
The Code refers to employers creating a culture of good work/life balance and breaking policy whereby people feel obliged to respond to messages out of hours. Crucially, the Code refers to a “right to maintain clear boundaries between work and leisure time”.
The new code of practice takes immediate effect and was signed at the end of the first quarter, on March 31st. It follows a public consultation and several months of public debate.
The code defines the right to disconnect as having three main elements:
- a right not to work routinely outside of normal working hours;
- a right not to be penalised for refusing work outside normal working hours; and
- a duty to respect another’s right to disconnect.
Codes of Practice in Ireland are not legally binding of themselves but can be used in evidence against employers in claims for breach of employment rights.
Employment law specialist Valerie Farrell of Nolan Farrell & Goff LLP elaborated, “It is important for employers to take note of this development and ensure they uphold employees right to disconnect by amending their policies and work practices and promoting it within their corporate culture.”
When announcing the new code Mr Varadkar said, “The pandemic has transformed working practices, and many of those changes will be long-lasting. Although much of the impact of the pandemic has been negative, particularly for those who have lost jobs, income or whose businesses have been closed, it also offers an opportunity to make permanent changes for the better, whether that’s working more from home, having more time with the family, or more flexible working hours.
NB – This is a guide for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have an issue requiring legal advice, please contact any of the team at Nolan Farrell & Goff LLP, whose numbers can be found on our website www.nfg.ie, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.