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What does the 'right to disconnect' law mean for Australian employers? A guide to being prepared.

March 22, 2024

In an era of constant connectivity, finding balance between work and personal life has become increasingly challenging.

Recognising this issue, discussions around the 'right to disconnect' have gained traction globally, with several countries considering or implementing legislation to address it.

Just this week, a bill was passed in Australian parliament which could have significant implications for employers across the country.

Under the new employee 'right to disconnect' laws, employees in Australia will be able to ignore calls, emails or messages from their bosses after work hours, without being penalized.

The right extends to ignoring messages from other third parties, such as customers, students or parents (in the case of the education sector), unless such a refusal would be unreasonable.

The new legislation could also mean that if an employee raises concerns regarding an employer's continuous contact outside of their work hours, the employer could receive a substantial fine.

In this article, we'll delve into what the right to disconnect law could mean for Australian employers and how they can navigate this potential shift while optimising their practices for a healthier work-life balance.

What is the right to disconnect?

The right to disconnect refers to the idea that employees should have the freedom to disengage from work-related communication and tasks outside of their regular working hours. This concept aims to mitigate the negative impacts of constant connectivity on employees' well-being, mental health, and work-life balance.

What are the implications for Australian Employers?

1. Policy Development

Australian employers may need to develop comprehensive policies outlining expectations regarding after-hours communication. These policies should clearly define when employees are expected to be available and when they have the right to disconnect.

2. Training and Awareness

Employers should provide training to employees and managers, raising awareness about the importance of disconnecting from work-related communication during non-working hours. This education can highlight the benefits of work-life balance and strategies for managing digital boundaries effectively.

3. Technology Management

Implementing technological solutions, such as the Eggy Work app, can help employers and managers to control after-hours employee communication and minimize disruptions during employees' personal time.

4. Cultural Shift

Fostering a company culture that prioritizes work-life balance is crucial. Employers should promote flexible working arrangements, encourage breaks, and discourage the expectation of immediate responses to after-hours messages.

5. Compliance and Legal Obligations

While Australia hasn't formally legislated the changes on the right to disconnect, employers should stay informed about any developments in this area and ensure they are well prepared to be compliant when they do come into effect.

Which employers are most likely to be affected?

The new right to disconnect workplace reform legislation may create challenges for some employers, particularly those with a highly casualised workforce, global firms or those who have moved to flexible working arrangements.

How can employers be proactive?

Employers that have simple, effective and personalised communications systems which cater to the individual needs and wishes of their employees before the legislation hits, will reap the benefits and avoid plenty of headaches.

To find out how Eggy Work can help you get ahead of the pack, book a demo here.

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