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Legal insights & industry updates

| 1 minute read

'Right to Disconnect' for Scottish Government employees

As part of the Scottish Government's public sector pay policy document for 2022-2023 setting out details for pay within the public sector, the Scottish Government also announced a requirement for all public sector employers to have meaningful discussions with staff representatives about the 'Right to Disconnect' for all staff and discouraging an 'always on' culture. Further details of the new requirement will be set out in a forthcoming technical Guide which accompanies the pay policy. 

The Scottish Government announcement follows policies introduced in other European countries notably France, Spain, Ireland and Portugal. For example in Portugal employers will face sanctions if they contact employees when they are off the clock. In Ireland, employees have the right not to routinely perform work outside their normal working hours, the right not to be penalised for refusing to attend work matters outside of normal working hours and employers have a duty to respect another person's right to disconnect.

Employment law is not devolved to the Scottish Parliament so whilst the Scottish Government has committed to offering this right to public sector employees those working in the private sector will not enjoy the same right unless the UK government decides to legislate on the issue. Not much is known about the contents of the upcoming Employment Bill, so a 'Right to Disconnect' could be introduced as part of the new bill.

Employers may also wish to proactively consider whether or not they want to offer employees a 'right to disconnect' particularly given ongoing competitive jobs market and continued home/hybrid working. Offering a good work-life balance can increase employee satisfaction and reduce burn-out, which can in turn aid productivity and the retention of the workforce.

Given the direction of travel in other European countries it may just be a matter of time before employers are forced to consider the issue in any event.

The policy also introduces an expectation that employers will have meaningful discussions with staff representatives about introducing a Right to Disconnect, providing a balance between the opportunities and flexibility offered by technology and our new ways of working to support the need for staff to feel able to switch off from work.


employment law