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In August the new laws around “Right to Disconnect” will come into affect. This legislation is designed to empower employees with the right to refuse to conduct work outside of normal hours reasonably.  There are however some factors that you need to be aware of as an employee or job seeker that will help you understand these new laws. What does it mean for you in practical terms? Let’s break it down:

Downtime is important.

These new laws don’t mean that an employer can not email you or send you messages or work information at any time. What it means is that you have the ability to reasonably refuse to action these requests until your next work day/shift.  The definition of reasonable is subjective and it is important that you check your position description and employment contract to ensure that you are not already being compensated for reasonable contact after hours.  

Your Rights as an Employee

The Right to Disconnect goes beyond just feeling empowered to switch off. Here’s what it means for you in concrete terms:

  • After-Hours Communication: Information can be sent however there may be circumstances where you can not read or action requests.  At other times you may have no issue actioning the request. This is a fluid expectation.
After August the new laws provide a legal right to refuse unreasonable work communications outside of your designated working hours.
However, there are some exceptions where responding might be reasonable or the norm:
  • Compensated Overtime: If you’re being paid for working outside of your regular hours, responding to communication may be necessary. It is also dependent on the type of work, time differences and many other individual factors.
  • Emergencies: In genuine emergency situations that can’t wait until the next work day, the employer’s request might be justified.
  • Communication Method: The communication method should be appropriate and not constant, inappropriate or at unreasonable hours.
  • Employee Role and Responsibilities: Certain roles might have a higher justification for occasional after-hours contact. However, clear boundaries should still be established between you and your employer. Many will update their internal policies and job descriptions as well as employment contracts in preparation.  
  • Employee’s Personal Circumstances: Respecting your off-time becomes especially important when you have family commitments or other personal responsibilities like moving house, parental responsibilities etc.


What to look for:

Here’s how to find a company or ensure that your existing organisation understands these new laws:

  • Look for Job Descriptions with Clear Communication: When searching for jobs, prioritise positions with job descriptions that clearly outline any necessary after-hours availability. 
  • Seek Companies that Value Work-Life Balance: Companies that promote well-being initiatives and a healthy work-life balance are more likely to have a culture that respects your right to disconnect.
  • Ask at the time of the interview: When interviewing it’s a great idea to check this with your prospective employer so you understand what it expected of you in the new role.

Message from the CEO

Being prepared in advance of these new laws is important and it’s essential that you look for clear communication when applying for roles. Ideally, you want to seek out employers that understand these requirements and respect you and your time. Since remote work and hybrid working styles are common, it could be difficult to know when work ends and private time begins. 


We all have devices with us for most of the day and often into the evening, so it’s tempting to check email notifications that come through after hours, however, we should also be mindful that we have to set our own personal boundaries around this behaviour. 


We need time to disconnect, to recharge and unwind; to free our thoughts and mind from work and working demands. Try setting your device to hide notifications after hours or putting it on ‘do not disturb’ during dinner time or in the evening, give yourself time to focus on yourself, your family and the parts of your personal life you value.


If employers are ensuring the conditions to encourage mindfulness and better mental health then we should also make adjustments that help provide the time needed away from work. 


Take Care




https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Bills_Legislation/bd/bd2324a/24bd052 https://www.fwc.gov.au/about-us/closing-loopholes-acts-whats-changing 


An image of Sandra Karamitelios, Director of Recruitment Central.
RC Central News March 2024 (5)

Right to Disconnect – Employers Guide

The Australian “Right to Disconnect” legislation is coming in August 2024 and, for many employers, it might seem like an added layer of complexity. However, here at Recruitment Central, we see it as an opportunity to refine communication practices and update policies, ensuring clear expectations.

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