Right to Disconnect

New Right to Disconnect legislation scheduled

The Australian Government has legislated a right to disconnect for employees which makes clear that employees are not required to monitor, read or respond to employer or work-related contact out of hours, unless refusing to do so is unreasonable. 

In some respects, the main focus of this law is to give unions and employees power to negotiate additional remuneration through a right to disconnect allowance.

Employees will now have a right to not respond to contact from their employer outside of their working hours unless doing so is unreasonable.  

The right does not prohibit employers from contacting their employees, nor does it prevent employees from contacting one another, including across time zones. Rather, the employee will be able to refuse to monitor, read or respond to contact, or attempted contact outside of working hours, when they are not expected to be working or paid to be working, so long as doing so is not unreasonable.

The employee right to disconnect will encourage employers and employees to talk about contact out of hours and set expectations that suit the workplace and the particular role. The right is about making sure employees know when they can switch off and what they have to do when they are not working (and not being paid).

When will these changes come into effect?

The right to disconnect will apply to national system employees and employers, other than those in small business employers, from 26 August 2024.

For small business employers and employees, this measure will not commence until 26 August 2025, providing additional time for these employers and employees to make arrangements that suit their workplace.