The idea that an employee can disconnect from work is not new as I first heard about this type of legislation in France a few years ago
There is no doubt in the proposed legislation that it is intended the Employment Standards Act of Ontario will be amended to include the text below this article.
However there is no need to submit it for governmental approval. There is nothing stating that the policy must be reasonable.
There is nothing preventing an employer from setting forth its policy then adding exceptions stating for example that it will not apply to employees negotiating to bring on new business for the employer or matters crucially important for the employer. A policy peppered with exceptions can be said to be toothless particularly in a non-unionised workforce. Just think of the myriad of exceptions an employer could use to disconnect itself from the spirit of the proposed legislation. Perhaps there will be regulations passed that prevent an employer from in effect opting out through exceptions?
I bring my experience as a lawyer where on many a mega deal I was working until 1 a.m. on “big strategic deals”. On the Blackberry at 2 a.m. with colleagues in Boston working on the same deal. Missing family occasions. Had I not gone the extra mile I would have been tossed out like dirty dishwater. Foolish or caught in the survival trap?
So before you clap with joy this proposed legislation is full of holes like a car riddled with bullets in yet another Toronto drive by shooting.
As having worked briefly for the Ontario government and with lobbyists the proposed legislation and regulations will be closely analyzed and commented upon and perhaps given some meaningful teeth. I can imagine the megacorps and law firms will craft what they can to ensure they escape the bite of tightened legislative provisions!
This article does not constitute legal advice but is a matter of opinion and is provided for informational purposes only.
PART VII.0.1 WRITTEN POLICY ON DISCONNECTING FROM WORK Interpretation 21.1.1 In this Part, “disconnecting from work” means not engaging in work-related communications, including emails, telephone calls, video calls or the sending or reviewing of other messages, so as to be free from the performance of work. Written policy on disconnecting from work 21.1.2 (1) An employer that, on January 1 of any year, employs 25 or more employees shall, before March 1 of that year, ensure it has a written policy in place for all employees with respect to disconnecting from work that includes the date the policy was prepared and the date any changes were made to the policy. Copy of policy (2) An employer shall provide a copy of the written policy with respect to disconnecting from work to each of the employer’s employees within 30 days of preparing the policy or, if an existing written policy is changed, within 30 days of the changes being made. Same (3) An employer shall provide a copy of the written policy with respect to disconnecting from work that applies to a new employee within 30 days of the day the employee becomes an employee of the employer. Prescribed information (4) A written policy required under subsection (1) shall contain such information as may be prescribed. Transition (5) Despite subsection (1), an employer shall, (a) have until the date that is six months after the day the Working for Workers Act, 2021 receives Royal Assent instead of March 1 to comply with the requirements of subsection (1); and (b) determine whether it employs 25 employees or more as of the January 1 immediately preceding the date described in clause (a).