Australia calls for employees’ rights to “disconnect”

To better protect employees’ mental health and wellbeing, the Senator committee is advocating for new protections for flexible work.
By: | October 20, 2022

A parliamentary committee in Australia recommended that employees have the right to “disconnect” from work and not be contacted by their employers after working hours. It recommends that the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations investigate law reforms to support flexible working arrangements and protect employees to switch off from their jobs during non-contractual hours.

Barbara Pocock, Greens Senator and chair of the committee, said the mental health and wellbeing of workers would improve with these changes. She explained, “We have seen a trend of ‘quiet quitting’ born out of this need to disconnect. It’s clear our workplace relations system needs updating; everyone should have the right to a life outside of work.”

The recommendation is part of a number of reforms recommended by the Senate Select Committee on Work and Care in its interim report, some of which have already been incorporated into the budget, such as the extension of parental leave from 18 to 26 weeks.

READ: Employees in Australia promised up to six months of paid parental leave

Among other items on the legislative agenda, rostering is another, which is aimed at making processes more predictable and fairer for employees, with a focus on fixed shifts and days. When changing rosters, managers will also be required to consider the views of the working carers.

Pocock added that last-minute roster changes made it almost impossible for employees to find care arrangements. She elaborated, “Millions of Australian workers in areas like retail and hospitality don’t know what shift they’re working tomorrow. Roster justice is needed to give workers predictable rosters and certainty of hours.”

Collecting data by introducing new questions in the census and conducting regular surveys about carers was also recommended. A final report will be handed down in February, reported Australian Associated Press.