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Thread: Right to disconnect laws

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    Default Right to disconnect laws

    Hi All

    It looks like the Government is looking to change the laws around after hours contact from employers, as seen in this ABC report


    To my understanding they have had similar laws over in the US for a while.

    basically from what i understand of this new legislation it would allow people to disconnect and not respond to calls and emails when outside paid business hours but gives allowance for emergencies.
    This seems fairly reasonable but it is being opposed by the liberals (this doesn't surprise me, if the sitting government came up with a solution to world hunger and to live free of illness they would find a reason to oppose it) that being said i found it interesting where the Australian Chamber of Commerce and industry opposes it.

    now part of their argument is that it will reduce flexibility in the workplace

    I find their opposition a little hypocritical considering they also oppose said flexibility.
    here is what they said about WFH


    this report quotes them saying it will take them back to per-pandemic working arrangements but neglects to say how


    My observation of the market at current is that there are two lines of thinking in this aspect
    one being that employees need to move back to a work from the office setup
    the other being happy to allow employees to work from home.

    now from my observation it is very much the companies that lack that flexibility that also tend to demand that their staff be contactable after hours without pay.
    they also tend to be the companies that want it both ways when it suits them.

    for me its fairly simple. if there is flexibility in work im happy to be flexible in return. that being said i also have a line in the sand where that flexibility has a too higher price.

    an example for this is that if working from home and you put in your contracted 9-5 hours a day if your contacted after hours to get something done I think it is absolutely reasonable that non urgent issues wait until the following day.
    issues that should be considered non urgent are
    1. Things the company had foreknowledge of prior to the end of business that day and didn't act or prioritize.
    2. Issues that are not costing the company money.

    additionally flexibility as described by the liberals and by the ACCI are things like starting and finishing late due to obligations, going to pick up kids from school etc. the way i perceive flexibility is "your contracted and paid to do 40 hours a week, if some of those 40 hours fall outside 9-5 that's fine as long as the hours are put in and the work gets done"

    What i don't understand is how that becomes "I let you pick up your kids from school so i now own you and get to contact you whenever i deem fit and ask you to work beyond your contracted hours whenever i like and for how ever long i like"
    and unfortunately the in the current setup of our employment laws and the fact that the definition of "reasonable additional hours" rests entirely on the employer to articulate the natural consequence is excessive unpaid overtime.

    This is the issue these new laws are seeking to address, and I from where i stand the companies that are speaking out against it tend to be the ones exploiting their staff in this way. employees should be entitled to disconnect and have a life outside of work
    I also think that people are grown up enough to negotiate this flexibility with their employer and in this law such provisions would be made.

    So that raises the question, What is the real objection to this new law?



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    I see it simple.

    If you work in an office for a set time you can not be contacted after hours unless it is REALLY an emergency.
    If you work from home with flexible hours then you should be within a reasonable range.

    This should be in contracts but to protect workers from exploitation some governance should exist.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Uncle Fester View Post
    If you work from home with flexible hours then you should be within a reasonable range.
    as long as your total hours worked in the week don't unreasonably exceed your contracted hours

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    Quote Originally Posted by bazzy View Post
    as long as your total hours worked in the week don't unreasonably exceed your contracted hours
    I have to laugh a bit how things have changed.
    When I was working in Germany in the 1980's though to 2001 there were no contracts.
    I got payed by the hour and/or achievement.
    Sometimes from 10:00 am to 2:00 at night. I usually spent 6 hours in the office but did most of the design work at home until late at night because that was when the creative part of my brain fired up and nobody rang me to disturb my creative flow.
    Last edited by Uncle Fester; 09-02-24 at 10:36 AM.
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    Heck! When I was working there was nothing to stop me, or my employer, talking to me about the next days jobs at midnight if we wanted to, and we often did. I was well rewarded for my efforts, and it never bothered me. He did not mind being called that late either. I even got a few phone calls after I left employ, too. That said, he is still a good mate and I've seen him several times in the last couple of weeks as I'm visiting Darwin for a while. About the only job I would have objected to out of hours activity was one where I was way underpaid for the task at hand. I did not stay at that one for very long.
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    The actual proposed amendment is thus;



    M'kay? I'm surprised this is a thing...back in the 80's before mobilephones, one of us was always rostered to carry a pager over the weekend, in case there was a plant emergency...(and the definition of emergency was very broad)...and such was a $50 earner for just carrying the pager, regardless of whether you were needed or not (and if you did have to go to plant, double time and a half from the point of pager contact until you clocked out).

    However, I know it gets abused... most of it I hear from the younger generation who are teenage/young adults, in casual/temporary work, getting calls at any hour to cover a short-shift or what have you....and they don't get paid for 'being available'. AFAICT the only greedy bastards who'd oppose this amendment, would be coming from the employer's lobby group, pissed off that they now will have to pay 'availability allowance', to grant them the right to contact an employee any old time, about anything.

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    When I worked for Telstra (last century) we never got an availability allowance but if we were called out you;d get paid 3hours even if it meant just going into an exchange just to push a button. One Christmas I got called out three times because a piece of equipment was sending out an alarm (had nothing to do with the gear, it was just that the weather across the Barclay had set up some weird inversion layers and the radio equipment was having a hissy fit. All I could do was press a reset button and wait for the next call. Usually we were on a rotating roster, but this night we'd had our Christmas party and I was the only sober one in my group! Time "on the job", including travel time, was 30 minutes round trip each time.
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    there are a couple of facets to this - If it protects employees from grubby bosses who abuse the situation then its a good thing. But if you have a good relationship with your employer then its reasonable to be called after hours , within reason . If the boss allows non work activities in work hours then its reasonable to do some work related stuff outside hours.

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    I think it's reasonable. I never had an employer contact me unreasonably that I can recall....ever. One of the first things I told every employer was that I would almost always be available in an emergency. It was just a quid pro quo thing.

    But it will be abused by some as these things always are, that's just life.

    Anyway, employers will just learn to vet their prospective employees accordingly.
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