“The Right to Disconnect” – what the new Fair Work provision means for your business

You may have seen recent reports in the media about the new “Right to Disconnect” legislation. This Right was outlined in new provisions in the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) to grant employees an enforceable workplace right to refuse to monitor, read, or respond to contact (or attempted contact) from an employer or a third party outside of their ordinary working hours, unless such refusal is unreasonable.

This measure will commence on 26 August 2024 for non-small business employers, and be applicable for small businesses from 26 August 2025.

Under the protection, an employee can refuse to engage with contact (eg phone call, email, direct message) from an employer if their refusal is ‘reasonable’.

It’s important to note that the right to disconnect does not prohibit employers contacting their employees outside regular hours.

As a business owner you should revisit how you interact with team members, particularly those communications happening outside of regular shifts, and ensure expectations are clear for all parties.

Other items employers should consider:

  • reviewing employment contracts;
  • considering updating or introducing policies regarding out-of-hours contact;
  • updating recruitment policies and procedures to be clear about expectations for out-of-hours contact, particularly where a role will involve being part of an international team; and
  • designing new processes to manage communication protocols and expectations.

The articles, templates, and media posted on this blog do not give business, accounting, taxation or financial planning advice and should not be relied upon as such. The articles are intended to provide information in a summary form and are general in nature. Formal business, accounting, taxation or financial planning advice should be sought in particular matters. O’Connells OBM Pty Ltd accepts no liability in respect of this information and any person acting solely on the information contained within does so entirely at their own risk.