Wednesday, 3 November 2021
Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection
127. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if her Department has adopted the Workplace Relations Commission Code of Conduct on the Right to Disconnect; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [53819/21]
My Department is committed to supporting its staff to work in a safe and healthy environment. The Department has traditionally offered its employees a range of flexible working and family-friendly arrangements and throughout the pandemic has been operating temporary blended working arrangements in accordance with Covid-19 public health guidance. A new Wellbeing Unit was established to provide advice and supports for staff in the areas of overall health including work-life balance.
The Code on the Right to Disconnect (April, 2021) complements existing legislation which support employers’ and employees’ rights and obligations under the Organisation of Working Time Act, 1997, the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, 2005, the Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2018 and the Terms of Employment (Information) Act 1994 – 2014. These rights and obligations are managed and implemented by the Department's Human Resources and Facilities Management support areas.
The Department is collaborating with the Department of Public Expenditure and Expenditure to design and develop a Blended Working Policy Framework for the Civil Service to support individual government departments in their introduction of long term blended working arrangements. The Right to Disconnect will be reflected in the Department's policy which will be published in early 2022 and will ensure the aims of the Code are reflected including to support 'both employers and employees to maximise the benefit from this changed working environment'.
In accordance with the Code, the blended policy will also provide for employee and employer obligations that work is carried out safely, ensure that employees’ rights are preserved and that employers and employees adhere to a balanced working environment.