'Recipe for disaster': Employers anxious about 'right to disconnect' proposal

Government asked to be transparent on last-minute draft amendment

'Recipe for disaster': Employers anxious about 'right to disconnect' proposal

More employers are expressing their concerns over the government's last-minute attempt to introduce a "right to disconnect" amendment in its list of workplace reforms.

Innes Willox, chief executive of national employer association Ai Group, expressed the industry's anxiety over the lack of clarity surrounding the proposed legislation.

"Industry remains understandably anxious about what any proposed 'right to disconnect' could look like," Willox said in a statement. "It is crucial that any proposal being considered by the Federal Government is made public as quickly as possible so that industry can genuinely consider what impact it will have, and it can be robustly considered by the Parliament."

His remarks echo the request of Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Andrew McKellar, who said the draft amendment needs to be more scrutinised.

"Until we see details, there will continue to be a raft of fundamental questions and concerns about how any such proposal might work," Willox said. "What we certainly don't want to see is another complicated and unclear workplace law that employers need to navigate for fear of being hit with penalties if they make a mistake."

Right to disconnect law called ‘recipe for disaster'

Workplace Relations Minister Tony Burke on Wednesday discreetly circulated to key crossbenchers a draft of the "right to disconnect" amendment amid pressure to include it in the second Closing Loopholes Bill, the Australian Financial Review reported.

But the move has sparked backlash from business groups, who called out the last-minute introduction and the lack of consultation over the proposal.

"Pushing a last-minute proposal through Parliament that deals with a significant and novel matter that hasn’t been the subject of reasonable scrutiny would be a recipe for disaster. On any reasonable assessment this isn't a sensible or responsible way to develop our workplace laws," Willox said.

He further warned that such approach could end up hurting both employers and employees.

"There is an obvious risk that it could perversely discourage employers from offering additional paid work to employees who might want it. That will just hurt employee incomes," he said.

Necessity for right to disconnect

According to Willox, there are already awards and agreements dealing with instances where employees may be contacted outside of working hours.

"We certainly wouldn't want to see any new requirement override these existing arrangements that are often working well and are well understood and supported by both employees and employers," the Ai Group chief said.

"Many employees, particularly senior employees, are paid a salary that includes the possibility that they will be contacted outside of their core hours. This also needs to be taken into account."

The chief executive further questioned the need for such legislation, pointing out that the Fair Work Act already limits the hours that employers can require an employee to work.

"If there are concerns that these laws aren't being followed, we need to look at educating people about them and enforcing them, rather than simply introducing a further layer of impractical regulation," Willox said.

Recent articles & video

2 in 3 Australians OK with date change for Australia Day

Former security services firm fined for failing to act on Compliance Notice

Independent contractor or not: Worker asserts oral contract

Worker hired through labour hire company challenges employment status

Most Read Articles

1 in 8 new hires leaving during probation: report

ACTU wants right to disconnect in all modern awards

FWC finds early notice of end to fixed-term contract amounts to dismissal