Right to Disconnect

Right to Disconnect Policy

The objective of the HSE policy is to highlight that all public health service employees have a right to disconnect from work outside of their normal working hours and to set out the rights and obligations of employers and employees in this regard. 

The policy complements and supports health service employers’ and employees’ rights and obligations under the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997, the Safety, Health, and Welfare at Work Act 2005, and the Terms of Employment (Information) Act 1994, as amended. 

Right to disconnect Q&A

  • Situations may arise where members feel that their right to disconnect is not being respected or that their workload does not allow them to disconnect at the end of their normal working day/shift. Examples of such situations might include: 

    • Being contacted regularly outside of normal work hours; 
    • Being expected to regularly work through meal breaks; 
    • Feeling obligated to routinely work longer hours than those agreed in their terms and conditions of employment; 
    • Inability to leave work on time due to excessive workload; 
    • Being subjected to less favourable treatment for not being available outside of normal working hours. 

    If this arises, the member should raise the issue directly with their line manager in the first instance. In circumstances where the member feels that they cannot approach their line manager, they should contact another manager at a higher level or discuss the matter with their local HR/Employee Relations Department. 

    If the issue/complaint cannot be resolved informally, the member may invoke the formal stages of the Grievance Procedure. 

  • All employees should be informed of their contracted working hours, normal times of attendance, rest breaks/periods, and rostering arrangements. The employee’s right to disconnect outside of their working hours, including rest days, annual leave, sick leave, or any form of statutory leave, should be respected. 

  • This policy applies to all public health service employees in the HSE and Section 38 organisations. 

  • The term ‘right to disconnect’ refers to the following: 

    • The right of an employee to not have to routinely perform work outside their normal working hours (including refraining from engaging in work-related emails, telephone calls, or social media messages); 
    • The right not to be penalised for refusing to attend to work matters outside of normal working hours; and 
    • The duty to respect another person’s right to disconnect (for example: by not routinely emailing, social media messaging or calling outside normal working hours). 
  • The scheduling of meetings (in-person or online/virtual) should take into account an employee’s normal working hours and the requirement to avail of rest breaks (e.g. lunch breaks). Only those required to participate should be requested to attend to facilitate the appropriate scheduling/timing of meetings. 

  • Emergency communications outside of an employee’s normal working hours/roster should be the exception rather than the norm. *This does not refer to the contractual arrangements that apply to some categories of health service employees such as on-call. 

    The tone and sense of urgency in written communications should be proportionate, particularly those sent outside of normal working hours. 

    If contact outside of normal working hours is becoming a frequent occurrence, steps should be taken by management to address the substantive issue. 

  • Share this page

    Contact INMO

    Catherine Hopkins

    Information Officer

    INMO HQ, Dublin

    Catherine O'Connor

    Information Officer

    INMO HQ, Dublin

    Office Opening Hours:

    Monday to Thursday

    9.00 am - 5.00 pm


    8.30 am - 4.30 pm

    Closed Saturday and Sunday