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Workers are going to be allowed to ignore after-hours calls from bosses

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Australia will introduce laws that give workers the right to ignore unreasonable calls and messages from their bosses outside of work hours. Potential fines for employers that breach the rule will be set.

The ‘right to disconnect’ is part of a raft of changes to industrial relations laws proposed by the federal government under a parliamentary bill, which it says would protect workers’ rights and help restore work-life balance.

Minister of Employment Tony Burke said in a statement on Wednesday that the majority of senators have now declared support for the legislation.

“The provision stops employees from working unpaid overtime through a right to disconnect from unreasonable contact out of hours.” Burke said.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said that what they are simply saying is that someone who isn’t being paid 24 hours a day shouldn’t be penalized if they’re not online and available 24 hours a day.  

Some politicians, employer groups and corporate leaders claimed that the ‘right to disconnect’ would undermine the move toward flexible working and affect competitiveness.

Similar laws that give rights to employees to switch off their official devices after work are already in place in France, Spain and other countries in the European Union.


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