Canadian government considers 'right to disconnect'

The impact on Canadian businesses would be 'enormous'

Canadian government considers 'right to disconnect'

The government of Canada is currently considering a ‘right to disconnect’ for its employees.

The ‘right to disconnect’ gives workers a fundamental right to disengage from all work-related activities outside of mandated office hours. Since the COVID-19 pandemic and the rise of remote work, employees are consistently working longer hours – negatively impacting mental health and work-life balance.

If the policy is passed, federal employees would not have to respond to any calls, emails, or messages after their working day is ‘officially’ done. At present, there are no Canadian provinces which have a ‘right to disconnect’ policy. As such, the government recently established the Right To Disconnect Advisory Committee, made up of both business and union leaders, to research the logistics and implications of the proposed law.

Speaking to HRD, a legal insider revealed that the implications of this bill could be ‘enormous’ – not only for government workers but for Canadian businesses in general.

In a statement made to the media, Labour Minister Patty Hajdu explained how employees now need more mandated private time.

“While many concerns were raised during our consultations, one message was clear: Canadians want more work-life balance,'' she commented. “It is time for the federal labour standards to be modernized to reflect the realities that Canadians face today, and we're taking the insights gathered from these consultations very seriously.''

Unions and labour groups are currently calling for an intrinsic right to switch off from work, in order to prevent emotional and physical burnout. For HR leaders, this onus on work-life balance in remote work is nothing new. However, seeing a ‘right to disconnect’ in federal law would do wonders for furthering worker wellbeing in the private sector.

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