UK businesses have been urged to follow Ireland’s lead, and give staff members the ‘right to disconnect’.

The marked increase in home working that has come about as a result of the coronavirus pandemic has improved the work-life balance for countless Brits. However, it’s not been so straightforward for all – with some reporting burnout from working longer hours at home than they would in the office.

It’s rather a case of living at work than working from home.

Surely enough, a new poll from professionals’ union Prospect found that 35% of workers say their work-related mental health had suffered during the pandemic. Three in ten said they were working more unpaid hours than previously, whilst almost one in five said this totalled four hours a week or more.

On average, Brits have put in an extra 59 hours over the past five months – equivalent to seven working days.

To combat this, businesses in Ireland have taken a lead from Google’s ‘right to be forgotten’ and offered workers the ‘right to disconnect’ – a policy that involves setting aside a number of hours every day where employees cannot be contacted by their work for any reason.

Similar schemes have been implemented in Canada and France, with the latter thought to have been where the whole thing originated – back before the coronavirus pandemic even took hold.

Now, Brits are calling for their companies to follow suit.

The Prospect report found that two thirds of British workers didn’t just support the idea of a right to disconnect, but called for it to be included within a series of nationwide employment reforms. Other requests include making flexible working the default option, not the exception, and giving staff greater freedom around when and where they work.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has said improvements are on their way. A spokesperson told “The employment bill, when introduced, will deliver the largest upgrade to workers’ rights in a generation, including measures that will help people to balance work and their personal lives.”