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70|Retail News|June 2021|www.retailnews.ie

Employment Law

The right to disconnect and flexible working A new Code of Practice and expected new legislation on the right to disconnect and flexible working could have implications for employers and their staff, write Barry Reynolds and Jenny Wakely, specialists in employment law with DAC Beachcroft.

The pandemic has, needless to say, been a game changer for screen based roles and remote work is set to continue for a great many businesses. Government authorities have responded with a growing suite of official guidance tools on adapted work practices; for example, the National Remote Work Strategy; Guidance for Working Remotely; A Remote Working Checklist for Employers; and, Guidance on Working from Home for Employers and Employees (Health and Safety Authority). For the most part, employers remain bound by all of their longstanding obligations in relation to managing working time in accordance with the Organisation of Working Time Act, 1997 (the “1997 Act”). This includes maintaining and retaining appropriate working time records and ensuring that employees do not work more than a maximum of 48 hours per week on average. The legislation also contains minimum daily and weekly rest periods, as well as mandatory breaks during the working day and minimum annual leave and public holiday entitlements. There are only very limited exceptions to the

need to observe weekly maximum working hours, as well as minimum rest periods and breaks. Home working is not one of those exceptions. Code of Practice on the Right to Disconnect The recent publication of the Code of Practice on the Right to Disconnect seeks to assist employers and employees with some of the challenges that come with an increasingly digital and flexible working environment. While pandemic working arrangements have expedited the introduction of the Code, it applies to all working arrangements, including those primarily office based. Its approach is to collate and complement the pre-existing statutory obligations on both employers and employees concerning, mainly, working time and health and safety. The key principles The Code provides guidance intended to curb the drift reported


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