Fair Work Commission to develop right to disconnect terms in modern awards

Fair Work Commission to develop right to disconnect terms in modern awards

Fair Work Commission to develop right to disconnect terms in modern awards

The Fair Work Commission has announced that it will insert the right to disconnect provisions in modern awards following the passing of a raft of amendments to the Fair Work Act 2009.

Changes to the legislation include the creation of a formal workplace right that allows employees to disconnect from work outside of the employee’s usual work hours. The Commission has started a consultation process with relevant parties to create appropriate terms for inclusion in modern awards and a set of guidelines.

The changes will commence on:

  • 26 August 2024 for non-small business employers (defined as an employer with more than 15 employees at any given time)
  • 26 August 2025 for small business employers.

The concept of ‘disconnection’ by employees means that an employee may refuse to monitor, read or respond to contact or attempted contact from an employer outside of the employee’s working hours unless the refusal is considered unreasonable.

It is reasonable to suggest that the Commission take a broad view of what might constitute contact, including but not limited to phone calls, emails, text messages, instant messaging, etc.

The legislative changes reflect a significant growth in the number of employees working from home during and since the COVID-19 pandemic, and what was once largely the province of public sector employees is now an almost standard feature of employment conditions for many Australian workers.

In various recent media interviews, Tony Burke, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, claimed that allowing staff to work from both the office and home will contribute to improved productivity.

The representations Workforce Advisory has made is that the provision should clarify that contacting or informing the Employee of Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How the Employee is next working for the Employer are all reasonable communications in addition to any further information required to ready themselves for work, including transport, travel arrangements, tools or equipment required.

Variation of modern awards to include a right to disconnect | Fair Work Commission

For queries about Modern Awards, workplace flexibility or other employment questions, please contact Dean Cameron at Workforce Advisory Lawyers – We Know Employment Law on 0417 622 178, 1300 WAL LAW or via email to dean.cameron@workforceadvisory.com.au

Disclaimer: This information is provided as general advice on workplace relations and employment law. It does not constitute legal advice, and it is always advisable to seek further information regarding specific workplace issues. Liability limited by a scheme approved under professional standards legislation.

Ref: 423.0324

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