Trade unions have echoed calls for ministers to tackle the barriers to homeworking by including a right to disconnect in the upcoming Employment Bill, expected to be covered in the Queen’s speech on the 11th of May.
The calls come as the Republic of Ireland introduced their own right to disconnect (effective April 2021), to support in giving employees a better home-work life balance in the wake of the pandemic.
In a survey conducted by Opinium, it found that two thirds of remote workers supported the policy and want the country to follow the likes of France and Ireland to ensure employees are able to keep their personal and professional lives separate.
The proposed changes to the Employment Bill follow reports of increasing employee burnout amongst homeworkers. Since the one-year anniversary of when the ‘work from home’ message was first announced, investigations into workplace changes have shown that remote workers are often working longer hours, unable to switch off and feel the need to be constantly ‘online’. Combined with external pressures such as loneliness, balancing homeschooling and work for many months, and anxieties about the return to work, it is essential HR teams look to reprioritise employee wellbeing as part of this journey.
In 2020, 79% of British adults in employment experienced work-related stress (research by Thrive: Mental Wellbeing). As we move towards a more hybrid way of working, it is important companies begin to cultivate a culture which encourages remote workers to have downtime. Holding regular wellbeing sessions, offering flexibility for working parents, being aware of warning signs and embracing HR and wellbeing tools will all support you on the mission to create a more inclusive workplace – particularly for remote workers.
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