The Right to Disconnect

16 August 2021

At a glance:

  • This paper proposes a new ‘Right to Disconnect’, discussing the evidence base and international precedents of such a proposal.


  • This right would provide working people with an added protection against unpaid overtime and its related negative effects, by drawing clear lines between work time and non-work time.


  • The paper concludes by outlining the legislative wording of a hypothetical ‘Right to Disconnect’, thereby providing an off the shelf option for policymakers.


  • As with all reforms of the labour market, the paper reiterates that the proper enforcement of such a right will be essential.



Phil Jones 

Nick Bano


With contributions from Matt Cole.


Nick Bano is a barrister based at Garden Court chambers, collaborating here on the legal wording of the Right to Disconnect amendments to the Employment Rights Act.


Angela Rayner, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party and Shadow Secretary for the Future of Work, said:


“Alongside the right to flexible working, there must be the right to disconnect. It is only fair that workers are able to establish healthy boundaries, switching off and disconnecting from work outside of working hours.

“In the modern workplace, we cannot find ourselves in a place where workers are expected to compromise their families, responsibilities or hobbies in order to meet employer expectations. It’s not a sustainable way to run an economy, many good businesses want to see these sorts of protections guaranteed to workers across the board.

“Labour will ensure that every worker has the right to flexible working and the right to disconnect. We need a new deal for working people and Labour will deliver it.”


Will Stronge, Director of Research at Autonomy, said:


“The Covid pandemic has accelerated the need to create much clearer boundaries between work-life and home-life.

“By enshrining a right to disconnect in British law, workers will be able to take back some control of their lives.

“British workers put in longer full-time hours than most of Europe and action is needed at the level of government to address these fundamentally unsustainable working conditions.”

This project was supported by the Alex Ferry Foundation and the Guerrilla Foundation.