What Is The Right to Disconnect?

What Is The Right to Disconnect In Ontario?

(Updated April 8, 2022)

The COVID-19 pandemic changed the way employers and employees think and understand the workplace. The changes in technology and the rise of ‘work from anywhere’ employment demands economic revitalization. Understanding the Right to Disconnect policy and how to implement it is crucial. Below is an overview of the disconnect policy and how to implement it.

The Right To Disconnect: Bill 27, Working For Workers Act, 2021

On November 30, 2021, the Ontario government passed Bill 27, Working for Workers Act, 2021. It received Royal Assent on December 2, 2021.

Bill 27 incorporates recommendations made by the Ontario Workforce Recovery Advisory Committee (OWRAC). The amendments include the requirement for certain employers to establish a right to disconnect policy. It also bans businesses from using non-compete agreements.

It also introduces obligations for the Right To Disconnect policy. The obligations of the policy include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Declaring the date the policy was prepared and the date any updates were made to the policy
  • Employees must receive a copy within 30 days of preparing the policy
  • If there are any changes or updates, employees must receive the policy within 30 days of changes
  • New employees must be provided a copy within 30 days of the first day of employment
  • Each disconnecting from work policy must be retained by the company for three years after the policy ceases to be in effect
  • Currently, there are no explicit requirements as to what a policy must contain

The Right To Disconnect: Who Is Affected?

Although working from home resonates as a flexible arrangement to some, for others, it is muddling the line between work and personal time, bringing on an issue of an employee’s right to disconnect.

Some employees are experiencing “burnout” as a negative effect of being constantly accessible and “plugged” into work. To avoid “burning out,” employers and employees must evaluate current work situations.

What Is The Right To Disconnect?

The right to disconnect is a policy requiring employers who “employ 25 or more employees to have a written policy on disconnecting from work in place for all employees.” Employers must provide a written policy to their employees. 

According to the Employment Standards Act, 2000, section 21.1.1, the right to disconnect is “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.”

What Is The Deadline For The Right To Disconnect Policy?

According to the provincial guidelines, expanding employers “who reach 25 employees or more on January 1 in any year after 2022 needs to establish a written disconnecting-from-work policy by March 1.” 

Further, growing companies with 25 or more employees have until June 2, 2022, to establish a written disconnecting-from-work policy (Employment Standards Act, 2000, section 21.1.2 (5)).

Considerations For Employers

At this time, clear guidelines have not been provided on what the ideal right to disconnect policy must state. With this in mind, employers should watch out for the potential introduction of regulations and amendments outlining what needs to be in your written policy.

It is important to note, industries vary. Each sector requires a custom approach to drafting and applying a written policy. Implementing workshops and training related to the policy will help employees understand your written policy and how to enforce it.

Considerations For Employees

As an employee understanding the right to disconnect expectations relating to your employment is essential. This includes your responsibilities, work hours, communication and overtime provisions, etc. Understanding these expectations and responsibilities will help you utilize the policy when implemented. 

If you did not sign an employment agreement or have a verbal agreement with your employer, we recommend obtaining written clarification on these expectations. 

Contact Us

Whether you are an employer or an employee needing assistance with reviewing or drafting an employment agreement, our team of experienced employment and human rights lawyers at Achkar Law can help. Contact us by phone toll-free at +1 (800) 771-7882 or email us at [email protected], and we will be happy to assist.

If you are a small or medium-sized company looking for full-service support with a same-day response, visit our CLO Program page for our strategic solutions.

Disclaimer: The goal of this blog is only educational. It is to help you understand some of the common and general inquiries we receive. Please do not rely on this as legal advice because legal advice is tricky and dependent on specific situations. Make sure you consult with a lawyer before using this information. Should you require legal advice for your particular situation, fill out the contact form, call (800) 771-7882 or email [email protected]