Thursday 14 November 2019

Plan to give staff right to avoid work emails and calls outside of business hours to be examined by government

Stock
Stock
Hugh O'Connell

Hugh O'Connell

The government will bring forward new policy proposals to give employees the right to avoid work emails and phone calls outside of working hours in the new year.

Business Minister Heather Humphreys gave the commitment today after she first floated the idea of giving workers the 'right to disconnect' last summer.

She has asked her officials in the Department of Business to look at laws that exist in other countries with a view to developing a policy for workplaces in Ireland. It could include a legal right for workers to disconnect similar to a policy that was introduced in France two years ago.

“I don't want to see workers feeling that they have to answer their phone at nine or 10 o'clock at night, or even have to answer emails,” Ms Humphreys said at the Future Jobs summit in Dublin.

Please log in or register with Independent.ie for free access to this article.

Log In

“So we want to develop a policy on that and I have officials looking at that and we're looking at models in other countries and we want to talk to the stakeholders and see what's the best way to go forward.”

The French government introduced a ‘right to disconnect’ in 2017. The initiative mandates companies with more than 50 employees to develop a charter defining employees’ right to switch off and setting out the hours when staff are not supposed to send or answer work emails.

The move was prompted by a desire to give workers a better work-life balance with the lines between work and private life increasingly blurred by the fact many employees have access to work email on their phones.

Ms Humphreys said last summer that an interdepartmental steering group had been formed to investigate flexible working practices including initiatives such as remote working, compressed hours, job-sharing and the attitudes towards such arrangements.

Speaking on Thursday morning, the Fine Gael minister said it was something she wanted to see prioritised and said she would imagine the policy proposals will be brought forward after Christmas.

“I don't want to see people feeling under pressure, under stress that they don't get a break from work because they're much more productive if they get a good night's sleep, rest in the evening, and we have to have a work-life balance,” she said.

Online Editors

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Also in this section