Business Maverick

Business Maverick

Australians get right to ignore office calls, emails after hours

Australians get right to ignore office calls, emails after hours
Commuters ride escalators as they go through the Wynyard Walk pedestrian tunnel at Wynyard railway station in Sydney, Australia, on Monday, 30 July 2018.

Australia will soon follow some European nations in giving workers the right to disconnect after office hours, leaving businesses facing potential punitive consequences for calling or emailing their employees once they’ve clocked out.

The right to disconnect will be included as part of a major tranche of industrial relations legislation proposed by the centre-left Labour government. The measure could potentially pass as soon as this week, following a deal with the Australian Greens party and independent senators on Wednesday.

The final form of the legislation is yet to be released, but under an amendment proposed by the Greens, an employee would now have the right to “refuse to monitor, read or respond to contact, or attempted contact, from an employer outside of the employee’s working hours unless the refusal is unreasonable”.

Any disputes over attempts by employers to contact workers outside office hours could be escalated to Australia’s Fair Work Commission for a final determination, according to the amendment proposed by the Greens.

“By winning workers a right to disconnect, we have reclaimed the weekend for millions of people who need that time off,” Greens leader Adam Bandt said in a statement this week, highlighting that there would be a number of factors determining what constitutes “reasonable contact”.

France, Spain and Belgium have already introduced the right to disconnect laws to protect workers from unreasonable contact outside of work hours, while other governments around the world are considering similar measures.


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