A new survey by Ipsos finds 60 per cent of people favour legislation granting a right to disconnect, although there is some division over whether that right should be prioritised over the right to flexible working.
Sixty per cent of adults in the UK are in favour of a right to disconnect law which would give employees the right to ignore work-related communications, such as emails, texts and instant messages, outside of their official working/on-call hours, according to new research.
A survey of over 1,000 people by Ipsos found that only around 1 in 10 (11%) would be against it and that there is little difference in the views of workers and non-workers, nor between Conservative and Labour 2019 voters, although graduates are more in favour than non-graduates and 16-24 year olds are also less strongly in support.
Currently, two-thirds of UK workers say they participate in work-related communications outside of their working hours (67%). Four in 10 (43%) check work-related communications while a similar proportion (40%) reply to them. A third (34%) proactively send work-related communications. Only 3 in 10 (30%) do not communicate with work outside of their official working hours, the survey found.
It says those earning more than £55,000 a year are more likely to be checking, replying to and sending work-related communications outside of working hours – 82% say they do this compared with 65% of workers earning up to £54,999.
More than half of UK adults say it is not acceptable for employers to expect their employees to participate in work-related communications outside of official working/on-call hours. Fifty-five per cent say is is unacceptable for employers to expect their employees to check for work-related communications, while 58% say the same for responding to them and 57% for sending them. Younger people tend to be most likely to believe such expectations are acceptable – for example, 56% of 16-34 year olds believe it is acceptable for employers to expect their employees to check work-related communications out of hours, compared with 34% of 35-75 year olds.
Opinion is split as to whether priority should be given to the right to disconnect or flexible working. A third (32%) say it is more important to give employees the right to disconnect than it is to give them more flexibility around the time that they work. However, a quarter (24%) believe it is more important to give employees a degree of choice over the times they work. But more, almost 4 in 10 (37%), say both are equally important.
Kelly Beaver, Chief Executive UK and Ireland, Ipsos, says: “There is clearly support for legislation that protects the work/life balance, but will something as prescriptive as legislation actually impinge on the flexibility many have embraced over the last two years? Businesses should work with their employees to provide an environment that offers flexibility and a healthy work/life balance, so that we can all benefit from this new way of working.”