The Ontario government is introducing legislation that will require employers with 25 or more employees to draft a right-to-disconnect policy.
On Monday, Monte McNaughton, the province’s minister of labour, training and skills development, announced the move as part of the Working for Workers Act 2021, as the Ontario government gears up for an election next June.
If the legislation is passed, employers would be required to establish a written policy about employees disconnecting from their job at the end of the workday. These right-to-disconnect policies could include “expectations about response time for emails and encouraging employees to turn on out-of-office notifications when they aren’t working,” said a press release about the legislation.
At the federal level, during its recent re-election campaign, the Liberal Party promised it would partner with federally regulated employers and labour groups to co-develop a right-to-disconnect policy for workers.
And this spring, the federal labour minister said the coronavirus pandemic highlighted the need to give employees the ability to avoid work emails and text messages as the lines between home and work lives blur.
Governments in Canada and overseas have taken a closer look at the right-to-disconnect concept after France adopted a law in 2016 giving workers the right to turn off their electronic work devices outside of business hours over worries that employees were doing unpaid overtime or being driven to burnout.