Is your “Right To Disconnect Policy” ready yet?

On December 2, 2021, the requirement was added to the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (“ESA”) that any employers with 25 or more employees as of January 1, 2022 will have until June 2, 2022 to create a written policy on disconnecting from work in place. From 2023 onward, all non-federally regulated employers with 25 or more employees on January 1 of any year will be required to have a written policy on disconnecting from work in place before March 1 of that year.

According to the ESA, the definition of “disconnecting from work” is “to mean not engaging in work-related communications, including emails, telephone calls, video calls or sending or reviewing other messages, to be free from the performance of work.” Essentially, the right to disconnect law gives employees the right to unplug from work activity outside of regular work hours.

Furthermore, employers are also required to provide a copy of the written policy to their employees within 30 calendar days of:

▪ the policy being prepared
▪ the policy being changed (if an existing policy is changed)
And, employers must also provide a copy of the written policy to any new employees during their onboarding period within 30 calendar days of being hired.

However, it has become evident that the government’s mandate for a “Right to Disconnect” policy is creating some ripples and confusion for both employers and employees. Especially in the current environment where many employees are still working from home and/or working in new hybrid positions, how can a policy like this be monitored or enforced? How will employees react? How will customers react? What happens if the policy is not adhered to? What are the employers’ rights? What are the employees’ rights?

The Working for Workers Act (2021) was what led to the idea of instituting a Right to Disconnect policy in response to concerns around employee burnout, especially during the pandemic the lines between work and home were blurredmore than ever. So although the intention behind this new law was to help businesses prioritize work-life balance and maintain a supportive, workplace culture, the lack of clarity provided by the Ontario government around the specifics of what this policy should say/do has been frustrating.
That being said, a well-drafted right to disconnect policy will provide a win-win for employers and employees.

Our team at Peak Performance HR have supported many clients in developing a customized Right To Disconnect policy that meets their needs. If you would like assistance with this policy and/or any other HR related question, concern or initiative, please contact us at [email protected] or 1-800-674-3471.