Australia Set to Enact Legislation Granting Workers ‘Right to Disconnect’ from After-Hours Work

Australia’s parliament is on track to approve a proposed “right to disconnect” bill, granting workers the freedom to disregard unreasonable calls and messages from their employers outside regular working hours without facing repercussions, as reported by Reuters.


This legislation, part of a comprehensive overhaul of industrial relations laws proposed by the federal government, seeks to prohibit employers from requiring their staff to remain accessible via phones and computers beyond regular work hours, imposing potential fines for non-compliance. 


The primary objective is to protect workers’ rights and reinstate a balanced work-life equilibrium.


A majority of senators have voiced their support for the legislation, emphasizing its role in preventing unpaid overtime and the principle that individuals should not be penalized for not being constantly online if they are not being paid for around-the-clock availability.


Additional Information:


  • The bill, anticipated to be introduced in parliament, includes additional provisions such as establishing a clearer pathway from temporary to permanent employment and setting minimum standards for temporary workers and truck drivers.
  • Despite support, concerns have been raised by some politicians, employer groups, and corporate leaders who view the right to disconnect as excessive, potentially undermining the trend towards flexible working and impacting competitiveness. 
  • Comparable laws offering employees the right to disconnect from electronic devices are already in place in various European Union (EU) countries, including France and Spain. 
  • Australians currently work an average of six weeks of unpaid overtime annually, totaling over A$92 billion ($60.13 billion) in unpaid wages across the economy.
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