The Greens party has secured support from the crossbench and the wider government for a legislated right to disconnect for workers.

The law allows workers to ignore contact from their employers outside of work hours, unless they are paid for it.

The federal government is contemplating a range of new changes to industrial relations laws, including a controversial shift to casual employment that has been met with backlash from retailers.

The latest amendment to the Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Closing Loopholes No. 2) Bill 2023 will give employees an enforceable right to refuse contact from their employer out of hours unless that refusal is unreasonable. 

Where the issue cannot be resolved at the workplace, and the behaviour continues, the Fair Work Commission can issue stop orders. 

If they are breached, the normal civil remedies of the Fair Work system will apply.

Factors like the reason for contact, the level of contact, compensation, job role and responsibility, and workers’ personal circumstances will be taken into account in deciding what is reasonable contact.

“The Greens have won workers a right to disconnect,” Greens leader Adam Bandt said.

“Whether you’re a nurse, teacher, or hospo worker, the Greens believe you shouldn’t have to answer calls or texts from your boss on your day off or after hours if you’re not being paid for it.

“This is especially a big win for women and carers who are often forced to juggle work and caring responsibilities.”

Senator Barbara Pocock said this right will help millions of Australian workers and their families.

‘The right is clear, practical and reasonable,” Pocock said. “It will make a difference for workers who are not paid for being available and who donate many unpaid hours to their workplace.

“In implementing this right, we are playing catch up with 20 other nations who have already acted on this massive problem. 

"This change will help workers protect their mental health and improve work-life balance. It will especially help those in insecure jobs who need that legislative backup.”

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