Right to Disconnect

Since covid-19 there has been a huge change in work practices in terms of the place of work for many employees.

Now many employees are working at home, and there is much talk of employers responsibilities regarding employees health and safety while working at home and an employees Right to Disconnect.

Right to Disconnect

In essence, an employers obligation regarding the provisions of the Health and Safety legislation and a common law duty of care, are the same while the person is working from home, as it is when they are physically at the employer’s premises.

Now employees have a whole host of difficulties trying to manage work-life from home and family life. Working at home and one personal life have become enmeshed and the dividing lines between them are not so clear anymore.

Employees should know if they are working from home or on workplace premises, they enjoy the protection of the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 in both work settings.

Employers cannot require an employee to work for a period of 4 hours and 30 minutes without allowing a rest break of 15 minutes. This is a positive duty imposed on employers to ensure this takes place, whether the person is in the office or at home working.  

The legislation directs that an employer cannot allow an employee to work over 48 hours per week over a 4 month period.

If a person contract states the work times are 9 am to 5 pm then this is the contractual working time period.

If an employer requires the person to work after 5 pm to say 8 pm then this is overtime and notice of this should be furnished to the employee.

Employers have a legal obligation to keep working time staff records.

If an employer is in contravention of the legislation, an employee can make a complaint to the Workplace Relations Commission and a case officer if they find for the employee, can direct the employer to comply with the legislation and require the employer to pay compensation of up to two years of the employee’s remuneration.

Employers should be cognizant of an employee health and safety issue also regarding this matter and the risk of a personal injury* claim arising.


Please be advised that the above-mentioned material is intended as an overview and as a broad outline of the topic discussed. It should not be considered as complete and comprehensive legal advice, nor act as an appropriate substitute.

Due care has been taken in the publication of this article and we do not accept legal liability as a result of reliance on any material covered in the above article.

8(b) “In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement”.

Roger Cleary

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