🔌 Right to Disconnect 👩💻
Ontario’s Right to Disconnect legislation went into effect June 2, 2022. This is part of Ontario’s Bill 27, Working for Workers Act, 2021 which requires employers with 25 or more employees to develop a written policy for staff regarding disconnecting from work. “Disconnecting from Work” is defined as not engaging in work-related communications, including emails, telephone calls, video calls or sending or reviewing other messages, so as to be free from the performance of work. From 2023 onwards, employers with 25 or more employees on January 1 of any year must have a written policy in place before March 1 of that year. (Source: https://caravellaw.com/ontario-bill-27-working-for-workers-act/).
Although the policy must apply to all of an employer’s employees in Ontario (including management and executives), the employer is not required to have the same policy for all employees. This means an employer can have different policies to cover different groups of employees.
Other countries with the Right to Disconnect legislation on place include France, Belgium, Spain, Italy and the Philippines.
Employees are finding that their work life is bleeding into their personal lives, to detrimental effects on their mental wellbeing, elevated stress levels and potential burnout. According to the Human Resources Professionals Association, 47% of Canadians feel exhausted during a typical workday compared to 39% of the national average. Microsoft’s Annual Work Trend Index states that 50% of Canadians feel stressed. An Ontario Parent Survey conducted by researchers at McMaster University and the Offord Centre for Child Studies in 2020 found that almost 60% of respondents (nearly all women) reported symptoms that matched criteria for depression during the pandemic. And finally, according to Statistics Canada, a lack of work-life balance cost Canadian businesses a combined 20 billion dollars a year in health claims, lost productivity, and absenteeism. The same report by Sage in 2021 found that 42% of Canadian business leaders believe dampened employee morale and the potential increase of burnout will negatively impact their revenues for the remainder of the fiscal year. The result of all of these studies shows that supporting work-life balance, managing employee stress levels, and preventing burnout are imperative in order for organizations to thrive financially. As a result of these alarming statistics, the Ontario government has made some changes to employment legislation.
Checklist for Employers – Right to Disconnect Policy
The Ontario Government has provided a checklist for employers to follow while writing their Right to Disconnect policy as follows:
Determine whether you are required to have a written policy in place.
If you are subject to the requirement, develop a written policy and ensure the policy is about disconnecting from work, as defined in the ESA.
Includes the date it was prepared and, if applicable, the date any changes were made to the policy.
Applies to all of your employees (note that the content of the policy does not need to be the same for all groups of employees, though all employees must be covered by the policy).
Is in place within the specified timeframe (for 2022, the policy must be in place by June 2, 2022. For all other years, the policy must be in place by March 1 of that year).
Provide a copy of the written policy to all your employees in the appropriate format within 30 calendar days of the policy being prepared or changed (if an existing policy is changed).
New employees must be provided with a copy of the written policy within 30 days of being hired.
Retain a copy of every written policy required by the ESA for three years after the policy is no longer in effect.
The Right to Disconnect is an incredibly important policy that will affect the workplace for generations to come. It is important for eligible organizations to update their policies and practices in accordance with the law. We hope that this will affect the mental wellbeing of all employees and thus increasing productivity and profits within your organization.