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The Right to Disconnect


March 18, 2024

Recently, the right for employees to legally disconnect from work was passed by parliament. This right has not been enshrined into law just yet and there is still some work to be done before it is, however there are plenty of things employers can do now to prepare for the change.

Important details to be confirmed include how this new legislation is policed and penalised. Currently, there are proposed financial and legal penalties for employers who do not follow the required directions. However, this is being challenged by the business community. The likely result will be a change to ensure there are zero penalties for an employee if they choose to disconnect. For example if an employee, outside of agreed working hours, chooses to not respond to a phone call from their manager, there will be absolutely no penalties. 


What does “Disconnecting from Work” look like?

Although the final details are yet to be confirmed, we know that the bill may look like legalising employees right to not be contacted after agreed working hours unreasonably. This could apply to emails, phone calls and all other communication platforms. Reasonableness would be determined by the Fair Work Commission and would consider, the reason for the contact, how often it is occurring, how much a person is paid, the role they are performing and the employees individual circumstances, such as caring responsibilities. 

In practice this may look like a removal of outside of hours contact unless reasonable or employees and employers mutually agreeing formal arrangements for out of hours contact.


Why is disconnecting from work so important?

Employees are more connected to work than ever before. Smart phones means we essentially carry a tiny computer with us at all times. This constant contact has lead to “availability creep”, meaning even if you’re not officially working it is very hard to switch off from work. 

Hearing or seeing a notification can cause anxiety and increased stress knowing that someone has asked you for something which you might not deliver straight away. This can lead to an increase in burnout and a lack of work / life balance. 


Things to consider:

  1. Consider your span of working hours, often this is referenced in your Employment Agreement and sets out the hours an employee might be expected to be available for contact or perform work. If this is currently not agreed in writing, now would be a great time to cement these expectations. 
  2. Conduct an audit of policies and procedures to ensure any details about employees right to disconnect is included and reasonable. This could include details about how you will contact employees to fill shifts or perform overtime at late notice.
  3. Conduct an audit of individual workers agreed hours and specific circumstances to ensure contact remains reasonable and for reasonable reasons. Consider the implementation of a system to record and track these agreed hours. 
  4. Run training with people managers and supervisors to ensure they understand the boundaries of reasonable contact and what the business has deemed as reasonable. Actively encourage managers to be respectful of their teams lives outside of working hours. 
  5. Run whole of business training to ensure the team understand what the right to disconnect means and what it doesn’t mean. It is important to ensure your team still understand and follow what is reasonably expected of them while ensuring your requests remain reasonable. 
  6. For those people who work flexibility and outside of the businesses scope of normal hours, consider adding a statement to this effect within signatures. For example “I work flexibility and therefore may send you an email or respond outside of normal business hours. There is no expectation that you respond to this email until your standard working hours.”


What next?

In the coming weeks, more information about this change in legislation and the practical application will be communicated. If you would like any assist with the implementation of any of the above considerations or to have an obligation-free chat, please contact us. 

You can also follow us on LinkedIn and make sure you are signed up to our newsletter to make sure your across all of the updates. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us on or call us on 1300 474 672.

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