New Employee Right to Disconnect in Australia

February 2024
Region: Asia Pacific

As widely publicised in Australia, the minister for employment and workplace relations, Tony Burke, has done a deal with the cross benchers to introduce a new “employee right to disconnect” via the Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Closing Loopholes No 2) Bill 2003 (Bill).

The Bill was passed by Parliament on Monday 12 February 2024 and amends the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FW Act) by inserting a new Division 6, Part 2-9 – Right to Disconnect. The FW Act will provide workers with a legislative right to refuse to respond to contact from their employer outside of work hours – unless the refusal is unreasonable.

“In Australia, you’re meant to be paid when you’re working”, Mr. Burke stated. Employees now have the right to “not monitor, read or respond” to contact from their employer (or work-related contact from third parties), such as emails and phone calls, outside of their paid working hours, without fear of disciplinary action or punishment at work.

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