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37% of respondants said they feel 'compelled' to respond to messages received outside of working hours. Alamy Stock Photo
right to disconnect

Over 60% of senior civil servants say they have been contacted about work while on leave

The survey has led to calls for ‘stronger’ policies around the Right to Disconnect.

OVER 60% OF senior civil servants say they have been contacted about work while on leave, and 83% say they receive work related communication outside of working hours.

The survey findings have led to calls for “stronger” Right to Disconnect policies by the Association of Higher and Civil Public Servants (AHCPS).

The AHCPS has around 4,000 members across 50 branches in the commercial and non-commercial State sector.

It mainly represents staff at assistant principal and principal officer level in the Civil Service.

Annual pay for assistant principals starts at around €77,500 and around €101,000 for principal officers.

The AHCPS will host its annual conference today and among the motions to be discussed are Right to Disconnect policies.

The Right to Disconnect code gives employees the right to switch off from work outside of normal working hours.

The AHCPS carried out a survey among its members on the Right to Disconnect this month, and it found that 83% of respondents receive emails and text messages outside of working hours.

Of these, 37% said they feel “compelled” to respond to these messages and emails received outside of working hours.

Meanwhile, over 60% said they have been contacted about work while on leave, and 30% said the additional work expected of them was “unsustainable”.

In addition to this, a third of respondents said their hours of work “do not reasonably align with their required working hours”, and of these, close to 30% said they work more than eight hours extra per week.

Almost 40% of respondents attributed out of hours work to resourcing issues, while 27% blamed the “blurring of boundaries created by hybrid working”.

Speaking ahead of the conference, AHCPS general secretary Ciaran Rohan said members will be “discussing the need for clarity around the Right to Disconnect”.

He said the survey conducted among members shows the “need for clearer policies in the workplace”.

Rohan added: “It’s clear from the responses that the expectation to go ‘above and beyond’ is creating an unsustainable working environment and these are matters that should be part of the engagement we have with Departments.”

He said it is a “source of frustration that engagement from some Departments has fallen short of what should be expected as part of functioning industrial relations”.

Rohan also remarked that there is a need for a “return to genuine consultation and dialogue”.

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