Prospect and CSGU agree Right to Disconnect policy with Scottish Government

12 December 2022

Prospect as part of the Council of Scottish Government Unions has agreed a Right to Disconnect policy with the Scottish Government meaning that for the first time workers will have an agreed right not to be contacted out of hours.

Agreed in consultation with the Council of Scottish Government Unions, the guidance forms part of the Public Sector Pay Policy 2022/23 and refers to a colleague’s right to be able to disengage from work and refrain from engaging in communications outside their normal working hours to avoid an ‘always on’ culture.

The exceptions are where: contact was expressly agreed with you in advance, you’re on call, or the situation is extraordinary (for example, letting you know an office is shut that day).

The guidance recognises:

  • that staff should not be required to routinely perform work outside their own agreed normal working hours
  • that employees should not be penalised or pressured to routinely work outside their normal working hours; and
  • that we all have a duty to respect each other’s down time (for example by not phoning or expecting responses to emails or other communications outside of an individual’s normal agreed working hours).

Richard Hardy, Prospect Scottish Secretary, on behalf of the Council of Scottish Government Unions said:

“The CSGU welcomes the implementation of the Right to Disconnect policy. Whilst the hybrid and flexible approaches to working in Scottish Government can be a positive outcome of the pandemic, the unions recognise that work pressure and different approaches to work can lead to an ‘always on’ culture.

“The Right to Disconnect policy creates a safety net for staff to ensure nobody is placed under pressure or compelled to work in ways or times that are atypical for them. It has been a long standing policy objective of the Trade Unions and the Scottish Government is the first public sector employer in the UK to implement it.”

Andrew Pakes, Prospect Research Director, said:

“This agreement, the first of its kind in the UK, is an important step on the road to reclaiming our home life from the encroachment of modern technology. We all benefit from that technology but good working practices have lagged well behind its introduction into the workplace.

“Being unable to switch off is a huge cause of workplace stress which inevitably impacts performance and productivity. It’s time the UK government and other employers followed the Scottish Government’s lead – it’s a move that will benefit them in the long run as well as being the right thing to do for workers.”