Workers should have "right to disconnect"

Should not have to answer calls outside of work
  • Deborah Condon

Workers should have the "right to disconnect" when they are outside of paid working hours, the Financial Services Union (FSU) has said.

The union believes that workers should not be obliged to engage in any work-related activity outside of paid working hours, including answering work calls or replying to emails.

"There is a mental health endemic sweeping the world of work and work-related stress is a key driver of this. One element of work-related stress is out-of-hours work and the ‘always on' culture of many workplaces," commented the FSU's head of industrial relations, Gareth Murphy.

The union highlighted this issue to coincide with the launch of a new report, Technology, Work and Skills: The Impact of Technology on Employees by the University of Limerick, which was commissioned by the FSU.

The report contains details of a survey carried out on almost 2,000 workers in the finance and technology sectors. It found "real concern" about the impact of technology at work.

According to the findings, 25% of respondents said that their employer expected them to answer calls or emails outside of work hours and just 7% felt that their employer had engaged in efforts to prevent the overuse of technology.

Meanwhile, 73% said that their employer is preparing to automate/replace aspects of their role through technology over the next decade, yet 36% said that their employer does not provide training and development in relation to the impact of technology on their role.

"We are recommending that employers pay more attention to upskilling and reskilling workers, and ensure measures are put in place to prevent the overuse of technology," commented one of the report's authors, Dr Michelle O'Sullivan, of the University of Limerick.

The FSU is calling on the Government to introduce legislation on the right to disconnect, "which would compel employers not to abuse contractual working hours by the overuse of technology".

The report was launched to coincide with World Mental Health Day (October 10).


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