European Foundation
for the Improvement of
Living and Working Conditions

The tripartite EU agency providing knowledge to assist
in the development of better social, employment and
work-related policies

EU PolicyWatch

Database of national-level policy measures

Eurofound's EU PolicyWatch collates information on the responses of government and social partners to the COVID-19 crisis, the war in Ukraine, rising inflation, as well as gathering examples of company practices aimed at mitigating the social and economic impacts.

Factsheet for measure IE-2021-14/1958 – measures in Ireland

New code of practice on right to disconnect

Country Ireland , applies nationwide
Time period Open ended, started on 01 April 2021
Context COVID-19
Type Non-binding recommendations or other texts
Category Protection of workers, adaptation of workplace
– Well-being of workers
Author Roisin Farelly (IRN Publishing) and Eurofound
Measure added 13 July 2021 (updated 14 July 2021)

Background information

The Workplace Relations Commission Code of Practice on the Right to Disconnect was published on 1 April 2021. The WRC developed the Code as part of the commitment made in the Programme for Government to facilitate and support remote working.

A public consultation and engagement with the social partners was carried out prior to finalising the Code.

There is currently no formal or legal right to disconnect under Irish or European law.

Content of measure

The purpose of the Code of Practice is to provide practical guidance and best practice advice to employers and employees in relation to the Right to Disconnect and their obligations under existing legislation.

It includes:

  • The right of an employee to not have to routinely perform work outside their normal working hours.
  • The right not to be penalised for refusing to attend to work matters outside of normal working hours.
  • The duty to respect another person’s right to disconnect (e.g., by not routinely emailing or calling outside normal working hours).

While the Code is not legally enforceable, the WRC has stated that “in any proceedings before a Court, the Labour Court or the WRC, a Code of Practice shall be admissible in evidence and any provision of the Code which appears to the court, body or officer concerned to be relevant to any question arising in the proceedings shall be considered in determining that question”.

Use of measure

Not yet known.

Target groups

Workers Businesses Citizens
Applies to all workers Applies to all businesses Does not apply to citizens

Actors and funding

Actors Funding
National government
Trade unions
Employers' organisations
Company / Companies
No special funding required

Social partners

Social partners' role in designing the measure and form of involvement:

Trade unions Employers' organisations
Role Consulted Consulted
Form Direct consultation outside a formal body Direct consultation outside a formal body

Social partners' role in the implementation, monitoring and assessment phase:

  • Unknown
  • Main level of involvement: Unknown


In accordance with the provisions of section 20(4) the Workplace Relations Act, 2015, the Workplace Relations Commission carried out a public consultation on the right to disconnect and received 37 submissions - including submissions from the social partners.

The WRC also engaged with representatives of both employers and employees, including IBEC and ICTU, in finalising the Code of Practice.

Views and reactions

Responding to the launch of the Code of Practice on the Right to Disconnect, Irish Congress of Trade Unions general secretary Patricia King said: “Trade unions have been to the fore in highlighting that existing checks on excessive working hours have become increasingly strained by advances in communication technology, an always-on work culture and boom in remote working. Protections must keep pace with modern ways of working if workers’ hard-won rights are to be preserved.

“The new Code gives guidance and best practice to organisations and workers on the right to not engage in any work-related tasks, activities or communications outside of agreed working time and not to be penalised for exercising this right. The Code is vital for safeguarding work-life balance and better enforcement of existing laws regulating hours of employment and protecting workers’ wellbeing, given the seismic changes in work practices” Ms King said. Social policy officer, Dr Laura Bambrick said: “The scope of the Code is much more than digital rights for workers to switch-off from work-related calls and emails at the end of their working day. It applies to all types of work and all types of employment, not only remote working. In this respect, the Code will be an important tool to help tackle the longstanding issue of workers regularly doing unpaid overtime.”

Employer body Ibec also welcomed the Code of Practice. Ibec Director of Employer Relations, Maeve McElwee, said: “It is positive to see the Code on Right to Disconnect focussing, as it does, on best practice, rather than layering on further legislation in circumstances where the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997, already provides a very effective and defined entitlement to disconnect.”

Our workplaces are changing faster than ever before and are experiencing an increased rate of adoption of new workplace technologies. While this offers significant positive opportunities for both employers and employees, it remains the case that work-life balance and time to rest remain fundamental to a healthy, engaged and productive workplace.


  • 29 January 2021: Code of Practice on the Right to Disconnect: Submission on behalf of ICTU (
  • 01 April 2021: Tánaiste signs Code of Practice on Right to Disconnect (
  • 01 April 2021: Right to Disconnect focus on best practice welcomed (
  • 01 April 2021: Right to Disconnect vital for workers' quality of life (


Eurofound (2021), New code of practice on right to disconnect, measure IE-2021-14/1958 (measures in Ireland), EU PolicyWatch, Dublin,


Eurofound publications based on EU PolicyWatch

30 January 2023


Measures to lessen the impact of the inflation and energy crisis on citizens

Governments across the EU continue to implement policies to support citizens and businesses in the face of rising food and energy prices caused by the COVID-19 crisis and intensified by the war in Ukraine. This article summarises the policy responses as reported in Eurofound's EU PolicyWatch database from January to September 2022.


12 September 2022


First responses to cushion the impact of inflation on citizens

Although the worldwide pandemic situation had already disrupted supply chains and triggered increases in energy and food prices in 2021, the situation deteriorated in 2022 with the Russian invasion of Ukraine.


12 September 2022


Policies to support EU companies affected by the war in Ukraine

This article summarises the first policy responses that governments across the EU have started to implement to support companies affected by the rising prices, and those with commercial ties to Ukraine, Russia or Belarus.


5 July 2022


Policies to support refugees from Ukraine

This article summarises the first policy responses of EU Member States, including those of the social partners and other civil society actors, enabling refugees to exercise their rights under the Temporary Protection Directive.


Disclaimer: This information has not been subject to the full Eurofound evaluation, editorial and publication process.