The Right to Disconnect

News  |   9 May 2024

Written by
James Millican, Paralegal

Labour has proposed introducing the ‘right to switch off’ further to their 2021 Green Paper, 'A New Deal for Working People'. This proposal aims at ensuring that working from home does not result in them turning into 24/7 offices. The practical effect is that workers will have a new right to disconnect from work outside of their working hours and not be contacted by their employer.

The idea of a 'right to disconnect' from work is already active in a number of EU countries, which have recognised the potentially negative impact of technology on the work-life balance of many individuals, particularly following the pandemic.

Much about this these new rights are unclear, notably whether this right will be absolute or have exceptions, particularly as some roles may need to be available outside of working hours. This is especially true for senior positions.

So far, the ‘right to switch off’ has been viewed as a widely popular policy and one which would mirror many other developed economies if it were brought in. Employers have highlighted that they hope that the right includes sensible qualifications as to where a real and reasonable business need to contact the employee arises. There have also been queries as to what the consequences for employers who breach the right would be, as the Green paper does not provide any clarity on this.

The ‘right to disconnect’ is likely to be one of the many reforms in Labour's mass rework of employment rights, a number of which they plan to introduce within 100 days if they gain the majority.

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