Learning & Development Asia 2024
Australian unions call on employers to allow employees the right to disconnect after office hours

Australian unions call on employers to allow employees the right to disconnect after office hours

The right to disconnect allows employees to refuse unreasonable contact outside of work hours but does not ban all employer contact entirely, the ACTU affirmed.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) has said it is pushing for a clear and simple way to give workers in all industries the right to disconnect from work and regain work-life balance.

According to a recent media release, a proposal was submitted to the Fair Work Commission on 11 June 2024 to include this right in modern employment terms.

In this proposal, the ACTU suggested a set of guidelines for how employers and employees can implement this right to disconnect.

The ACTU ensured that the guidelines would allow employers to take all the reasonable steps to avoid contacting their workers outside of their work hours and argued that employers being disorganised is not a good enough reason to contact employees after hours.

“Employer group claims that they effectively ‘own’ their employees out of work hours if they have entered into flexible work arrangements is frankly outrageous and the Fair Work Commission should not bow to threats of this nature," Michele O'Neil, President, ACTU affirms.

In that vein, reasons cited for opposing this include flexibility and what was said to be unfairly favourable towards employees. However, the ACTU argued that this concern is unfounded, noting that the right to disconnect allows employees to refuse unreasonable contact outside of work hours but does not ban all employer contact entirely.

Employers can still choose to contact employees, but employees will now have the right to decline such contact if it is unreasonable and outside of their paid hours.

“Employers want to be able to contact workers outside of working hours, in a range of circumstances, such as asking them about tasks that were not completed during their working hours. 

"That is the very type of contact where it may be reasonable for a worker to refuse to respond until they are next back at work.

“This is exactly how the right to disconnect should operate – to give workers the right to not respond to unreasonable contact by their employer when they are not being paid to do so." she adds. 


Lead image / 123RF

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