What Employers need to know when implementing the Right to Disconnect Legislation

Employers that employ 25 more employees on January 1st of any year must have a written policy on disconnecting from work in place by March 1st of that year. This is referred to as the Right to Disconnect provision. The purpose of this legislation is to support employees mental wellbeing and encourage work-life balance.
The main questions employers and employees themselves are asking is what does this mean and how is this going to be implemented?

First off, lets discuss how this is defined.

Under the Working for Workers Act, 2021, S.O. 2021, c. 35 – Bill 27 PART VII.0.1 Written policy on disconnecting from work:
“disconnecting from work” means not engaging in work-related communications, including emails, telephone calls, video calls or the sending or reviewing of other messages, so as to be free from the performance of work.

Now, let’s discuss the details employers need to be aware of.

  • A transitional provision establishes that employers that meet the 25-employee threshold on January 1, 2022 have until June 2, 2022 to meet the new requirement to have a written policy in place.
  • An employer shall provide a copy of the written policy with respect to disconnecting from work to each of the employer’s employees within 30 days of preparing the policy or, if an existing written policy is changed, within 30 days of the changes being made.

Getting Started:

  • Review current employment contracts to determine if your current regular working hours terms and conditions could prevent you from complying with the right to disconnect and adjust where necessary.
  • Define the scope of disconnecting from work and be specific with work related communication methods. Review all your current communication methods and what disconnecting from these methods will look like for all employees.
  • Speak with your leadership team to specify expected hours of work, if this will look different for each department, and clearly define the details of when workplace communication is and isn’t authorized.
  • Discuss if there will be exceptions for certain employees due to business demands and choose to incorporate flex time to ensure that the employees are able to disconnect from work communications.
  • Discuss how the policy will be evaluated, monitored, enforced and what are expectations of all employees.

Helpful tips and suggestions:

  • Fostering a work environment where employees are updating their online presence, for example setting your status to “out of office” and “away” when disconnecting.
  • Work with IT to incorporate technical rules that ensure employees are disconnecting. Some possible ideas are stopping servers from sending emails during certain time, only receiving emails during certain hours of the day, not allowing the option to schedule meetings outside of working hours, and “no reply” emails to people inside and outside of the organization.
  • Monitor the policy at a minimum once a year. Evaluate how the policy is working by reviewing feedback and suggestions to ensure everyone is benefiting from the polic

Training your employees:

  • It is imperative you train all employees on the policy, the purpose of the policy and the expected behaviours.
  • Ensure everyone is on board with the policy by encouraging your employees to disconnect from work at the end of the day and leading by example.
  • While you are focusing on training your employees on this new policy, also touch on time management skills as this new policy may require scheduling time more frequently throughout the day.
  • Conduct feedback sessions with your employees. Start with a roll out period of three months and revaluate progress.

Given the legislation is still in the early stages of review it would be beneficial to start thinking about building your policy now. By following these steps and asking the important questions you will be prepared and set up for success when implementing your Right to Disconnect policy. Most importantly, remember that this is a step in the right direction to maintain work life balance for all individuals in the workplace.

Looking for more? Register for the informative webinar our HR Consulting team will be hosting on the Right to Disconnect policy!

Our HR Consulting team offers support in Policy Developments, Legal Compliance, Training Sessions, Performance Management and so much more! To find out more about the wide variety of services the HR Consulting team can provide you with contact the team at hr@rlb.ca.