UK ministers urged to give employees a right to disconnect

UK ministers are being asked to give employees a legal right to disconnect in order to improve their mental health and life quality. The call is led by the labour union Prospect which mainly represents scientists, engineers and tech workers. Employees in the telecom industry argue that working from home made it harder to separate work and family commitments. In addition, the pressure to respond to work chores in unreasonable hours has increased. A recent polling revealed that the right to disconnect is cross-party supported in the UK. The Prospect research director noticed that for millions of employees ‘working from home has felt more like sleeping in the office’.

Members of the European Parliament have already drawn attention to the fact that a right to disconnect should be an EU-wide fundamental right. In Ireland, the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) has passed in the beginning of the month an official code of practice giving employees the right to disconnect. The code aims at refraining workers from engaging in work-related electronic communications outside normal working hours. The WRC believes that ‘the creation of a culture in which employees feel they can disconnect from work and work-related devices necessitates a joint approach by employers and employees’.