From consultation with CIPD members, it is clear that embedding the Right to disconnect is about the organisation’s culture, and bringing the Right to disconnect alive will be a culture change process. Employers have to take time to consult and build the right policy in each workplace, and agree on and then align the required behaviours. Consultative engagement with employees in the co-creation of policy is a key aspect of embedding the right culture, along with engaging with the trade union or other appropriate mechanism at enterprise level.
The Code of Practice should be linked to Health and Safety and the wellbeing agenda. It has to separate out the right to communicate and the right to switch off. Employees have the right to switch off, and companies are still able to send communications. This is a critical distinction. At organisational level, international organisations will send corporate communications at a time that suits during their working day. This may not be the same as the normal working day in Ireland, and it would significantly damage our global reputation and competitiveness if corporate headquarters had to remove Irish-based employees from such a list.
Also flexible and remote working are increasing employee choice about when and where they work, a critical development for our future labour force. If employees have the choice to work atypical hours, for example the many parents managing childcare at this point of lockdown, a restriction on when employees can send communications would be stressful and unproductive. Removing a key perceived benefit of flexible and remote working – the ability of an employee to move their working hours around to suit their life – would be counterproductive for the future, in terms of competitiveness and performance.
Therefore we recommend that the approach to the COP is principle based, focusing on the employee’s right to switch off and that there is no expectation that an employee is available until next normal business hours. It should address the right to be informed and educated that this is how the company operates. It should not focus on the rules around sending emails, though employees should be discouraged from sending emails outside of their normal hours of work.
At its heart, the Right to disconnect is about respect – respect for oneself in disconnecting from work and respect for others’ work life balance boundaries and not creating unrealistic expectations of response times. CIPD Ireland recommends that a COP provides guidance to employers and employees on how to establish the culture and behaviours that will support wellbeing and drive the Right to disconnect.
Read the full submission in the download below: