On November 30, 2021, the Ontario government passed the Working for Workers Act 2021,
which, among other changes , introduces a policy on the right to disconnect from work. The Act
requires employers with 25 or more employees to have a written policy providing workers the
right to disconnect from work. The goal of the legislation is to prioritize workers’ mental health
and family time. Employers have until June 2, 2022 to role out this policy.
WHAT EXACTLY IS THE RIGHT TO DISCONNECT?
The purpose of the right to disconnect policy is to help support workers in establishing
boundaries between their personal and work life without having to worry about potential
repercussions from their employer.
Throughout out the pandemic many employees have either worked remotely or have worked a
hybrid schedule and as people have used their homes as a second office, the lines between
home and work life have been blurred.
This has created an “always on” work environment which typically results in employees
engaging or having job-related communications outside of their regular working hours.
Although this might not seem like it matters if, for example, a worker sends a message to a
colleague, supervisor, or manager after hours or works late/on the weekend to finish a project,
the reality is that working extra hours can have a negative impact on employees. This in turn
can also result in workers having a difficult time maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
THREE KEY PRINCIPLES OF THE POLICY:
In general, the right to disconnect typically consists of three key principles:
- The right to not regularly work outside normal working hours.
- The right to not be penalized for not checking and replying to work-related
communications outside normal working hours.
- Respecting other’s right to disconnect. This means not regularly calling or e-mailing
colleagues outside normal work hours.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?
What happens when your employees don’t have a work life balance? They develop long term
health issues that include burnout, low productivity, absenteeism, anxiety, chronic stress, and
This may lead to increased employee turnover, lower workplace morale, and prove costly to
employers in the long run.
Ensuring that your employees are well rested and not hurting their personal lives and wellbeing
due to work demands is ultimately in the interests of your business.
Employer’s must recognize that workers need to be able to disengage from their job
both physically and mentally as this enables them to regenerate especially since the pandemic has elevated anxiety and stress levels making it even more crucial to decompress after a work
Creating a right-to-disconnect policy and outlining clear guidelines for employees to follow can
strengthen the work environment for employers and their employees overall. If workers have a
healthy work-life balance this can help to decrease overworked and burnt-out employees which
will promote a more effective work environment during regular business hours. Having this
pressure lowered can also have additional advantages e.g. increased worker productivity,
morale, and sentiments that their employer values and supports their mental well-being.