CIPD survey backs up Prospect call for a Right to Disconnect

27 April 2021

A CIPD survey published today illustrates the growing problem of digital presenteeism (working when ill) in both people working from home and those who are predominantly office based.

The problem is in part put down to the rise of the always on culture and blurred lines between work and home.

Recent polling by Opinium for leading union Prospect illustrated the problem of not being able to switch off, particularly for remote workers:

  • 35% of remote workers say their work-related mental health has got worse during the pandemic with 42% saying this is at least partly a result of inability to switch off from work
  • In total 32% of remote workers say they are finding it hard to fully switch off from work
  • 30% of remote workers report working more unpaid hours than before the pandemic (with 18% working at least 4 additional unpaid hours per week)

Many countries have recently introduced policies giving workers a ‘right to disconnect’ from work and Prospect is urging the UK to do the same. A ‘right to disconnect’ is where employers are legally required to agree rules with staff about when then can and can not be contacted for work purposes.

Prospect’s polling found that support for the policy was strong across all age groups and with voters from all political parties, with 53% of Conservative voting workers supporting the idea compared to just 22% opposed. Overall 59% of workers support the idea with 17% opposed.

Prospect has written to Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng urging him to include the Right to Disconnect in a consultation in advance of an Employment Bill, which is expected to be included in May’s Queen’s Speech.

Prospect Research Director Andrew Pakes said:

“CIPD’s research backs up Prospect’s findings that an always on culture is creating huge problems for working people. This is true across the board but particularly in home working which has exploded since the start of the pandemic.

“It is clear that for millions of us, working from home has felt more like sleeping in the office, while remote technology means it is harder to fully switch off even if you work in an office most of the time.

“Remote working and the use of technology are here to stay but with proper dialogue between employers and their employees, coupled with government intervention, we can make the UK a model of fair, effective and productive flexible working.

“Including a Right to Disconnect in the Employment Bill would big a big step in redrawing the blurred boundary between home and work and would show that the government is serious about tackling the dark side of remote working.”

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