The Union Prospect is calling for an addition to the Employment Bill after research revealed a third of employees find it hard to fully switch off from work.
The ‘right to disconnect’ would see employers and employees agree rules on when staff cannot be contacted for work purposes, to help employees have a better work – life balance.
In reaction, Adam Haines, Employment Law Partner at Aaron & Partners said:
'Prospect has raised legitimate concerns and has highlighted some of the challenges that many of us have faced over the past year. During the pandemic, the usual boundaries and sanctuary of home have been lost and as a result, many people’s mental health has been negatively impacted.
Employers have a duty of care to their employees, meaning they must do what they reasonably can to support staff’s health, safety and wellbeing, even whilst they are working remotely and so they must carefully consider the impact that working from home could have on their employees mental and physical health.
In respect to this, introducing a ‘right to disconnect’ could be a positive move, however, there are many aspects to consider. There could be concerns about it being successfully policed by companies and it being implemented through legislation.
Additionally the legislation could prevent employers from having the necessary flexibility to adapt to each employee’s needs and so I believe a better solution would be for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to issue new guidance on working from home and a safe working environment that supports employees having more separation between their work and home life.
Additionally, there is a real opportunity to utilise new technology. Businesses could put in place prompts at specific times during the day to ask employees to take a break or even automatically log employees off the system. This type of monitoring would also potentially help employers to identify burn out and other mental health issues before they escalate.'Adam Haines