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Ontario is the first province to enact a right-to-disconnect legislation

Ontario is the first jurisdiction to pass a law granting the freedom to disconnect.

Key Takeaways:

  • Employees in Ontario now have the ability to dismiss business emails, messages, and phone calls after hours, which is a win for work-life balance.
  • In addition, the Act has been condemned for being inefficient and lacking key aspects such as enforcement and fines.
  • Stacy Tang quit the insurance industry to create her own graphic design firm, which allowed her to work from home and have more flexibility with her schedule.

Silence your phone and turn off notifications: A new rule in Ontario offers employees the right to dismiss work emails, messages, and calls after hours, which is a win for work-life balance.

Employers with 25 or additional employees in Ontario must have a documented policy regarding disconnecting outside of business hours as of June 2. The so-called “right to disconnect” legislation was included in the Working for Workers Act, which the Ontario Progressive Conservatives approved in late 2021. It’s the country’s first law of its type.

“To be free from the performance of the job, ‘disconnecting from work’ includes not engaging in work-related communication, such as emails, phone calls, video chats, or the posting or reviewing of other messages,” the 2021 legislation added.

According to Ontario labor minister Monte McNaughton, the regulation was “developed in response to the increasingly blurred barriers among work and home” caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Also read: As per a health worker poll, nurses are more likely to leave in the next 3 years

All employees in Ontario, including supervisors and executives, are subject to the new laws. If there are any expectations concerning communicating outside of working hours, company policy must explicitly state them. As of June 2, all Ontario companies with 25 or more employees must have a documented policy as of January 1, 2022. By January 1, 2023, employers with 25 or more employees must have their policy in place by March of that year.

Beginning in March of 2023, all firms with 25 or more employees must have a policy.

The only province that has a right to disconnect law is Ontario. Quebec and the federal gov’t have also looked into the proposal, although no legislation has been introduced yet. Such rules were initially introduced in France, and only a small number of nations, notably Italy and Slovakia, have followed suit.

On the other side, critics claim that the Ontario Act falls short and fails to fulfill the needs of many workers.

“They should be looking at workplace flexibility,” Bryan Smale, a professor in the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies at the University of Waterloo, told CTV News. “As long as they do their jobs, they have more flexibility; it helps their work-life balance and overall well-being.”

Ontario is the first jurisdiction to pass a law granting the freedom to disconnect.
Ontario is the first jurisdiction to pass a law granting the freedom to disconnect. Image from CP24

The legislation has also been chastised for being ineffective and lacking essential features such as enforcement and sanctions. Still, mental health advocates think guidelines like these are a good start toward achieving a work-life balance and detaching from the digital world.

Dr. Shimi Kang, a Vancouver-based psychiatrist, told CTV News that “this allows folks who may be having a hard time, or have a toxic job, or a tough workplace, to have something else in their toolbox to initiate and assist them.”

After five years, Stacy Tang left the insurance industry to start her own graphic design business, which provided her with more flexible hours and the ability to disengage from work.

Tang told CTV News from Toronto, “Sometimes I get that [notice] after work, and I just get anxiety simply hearing it.” “It’s so difficult to unplug these days, especially with the technology becoming so accessible, and your supervisor knowing you have access to the system after work,” says the author.

Failure to follow the new standards could result in a monetary penalty under Ontario’s Employment Standards Act.

Source: CTV News

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