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The COVID-19 pandemic has deeply changed the job market as we knew it before. Remote work, while a very appealing option for many workers, has brought its fair share of issues that companies and human resource professionals must deal with. The line between personal and professional spheres has become thinner than ever. How can we have effective discernment during this major transformation of our work habits and policies?

THE RIGHT TO DISCONNECT AROUND THE WORLD

The right to disconnect has already existed in Europe for a few years. In France, companies with more than 50 employees must come to an internal agreement on the right to disconnect. In Germany, there is no provision for this in the labour laws. However, large manufacturing groups such as Volkswagen, Daimler-Benz and BMW have taken measures on their own initiative, even going so far as to block communications of any kind via the smartphones of the company for significant time periods lasting multiple hours outside of regular working hours.

 

ONTARIO’S CASE

Ontario has been a pioneer in Canada in terms of protecting the health of its employees. As of June 2, 2022, Ontario employers with more than 25 employees must implement a written policy on the right to disconnect.

But what does the right to disconnect mean?

It is about being able to detach yourself from work outside of regular working hours. There is a wide variety of examples, but it essentially consists of limiting the amount of time one is available for work such as receiving and answering calls and/or emails.

 

That being said, it is uncertain what impact this new regulation will have, as there is nothing in the Ontario legislation that tells employers what must be added to their policy. An employer could, for example, state in their policy that employees must disconnect for a limited period of time outside of work hours, which might not have a significant impact on work-life balance.

 

WHAT IS THE FUTURE OF THE RIGHT TO DISCONNECT?

At the end of 2021, the political party Quebec solidaire introduced a new bill on the right to disconnect, which has not yet been adopted or implemented. This is the second time that this political party has presented a bill on this matter. The discussion on the right to disconnect is well underway in Quebec. However, experts agree that currently a right to disconnect could be difficult to integrate into a full-fledged law in Quebec. Before the right to disconnect can be implemented, some work needs to be done on changing the management philosophy of Quebec employers.

We’ll see to what extent this reflection will lead us to concrete actions and to a significant level of transformation of our organizational practices in human resource management.

Francois Thibault

 

Do not hesitate to contact François Thibault for more information on our HR consulting services.

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