The Right to Disconnect

Aug 1, 2023

To meet the challenges of a global pandemic, we have all embraced major changes to our previously rigid working arrangements. The modern worker works flexibly, efficiently and remotely from home, made easy with technology and remote access to the office already available. From a work / life balance perspective, cutting down hours of travel time leaves us more hours for our family and other aspects of our lives. However there has been a down-side for workers, with them feeling they must always be available; the convenience of the flexibility has become a burden and left the boundary between work and non-work hours unclear for workers.

This has been described as an ‘availability creep’ which poses the potential for psychosocial risks to the well-being of workers in the workplace.

As a result, a new global workers’ right has emerged and that is the “right to disconnect” from work, after your work hours. Many countries have already enshrined this in legislation and in Australia there are amendments to the Fair Work Act currently before the Senate. It is likely to be passed and this proposed new ‘right to disconnect’ outside working hours is being added to the National Employment Standards.

This clarifies that workers are NOT required to monitor, read or respond to email, telephone calls or other kinds of communication from an employer outside their work hours – UNLESS there is some emergency situation, or unless there is an ‘availability allowance’ negotiated, with clear guidelines. Contact us today!

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