The Greens’ ‘Right to Disconnect’ Bill is designed to protect work-life balance

The Greens have tabled legislation that would protect the 'right to disconnect' from work. Will it be passed?
Right to disconnect

The Greens tabled the ‘Right to Disconnect’ Bill in Federal Parliament on Monday. If it’s passed, it would amend national employment standards to protect workers ‘right to disconnect’ from work.

Leader of the Greens, Adam Bandt, has said the measure would provide protections for employees against the “blurred” boundaries between work and life in Australia.

It hasn’t been voted on yet, but is unlikely to receive Government or Opposition support.

What would it do?

The legislation would ban employers from contacting their workers while they’re not rostered on, including during periods of leave.

It also removes any obligation or requirement for a worker to be responsive to their employer. This could include reading or responding to emails, or picking up phone calls.

Employers will still be allowed to contact workers in an emergency and for a “genuine welfare matter”. This would also apply if an employee is rostered to work, or told to remain available for work, in the period when the contact is made.

What’s the context?

This draft law comes after a report delivered by the Senate Work and Care Committee this month. It was chaired by Greens Senator Barbara Pocock.

The Committee recommended further consideration be given to an employee’s ‘right to disconnect’ outside of business hours, and ensured workers have a ‘right to say no’ to extra hours without facing negative consequences.

Will it pass?

The Federal Government has a majority in the House of Representatives. This means the bill would only pass with Government support.

A Government spokesperson says a decision hasn’t been made about its position on the bill.

TDA contacted Shadow Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Michaelia Cash for comment, but didn’t receive a response before the story’s deadline.

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