Ontario law allowing employees to disconnect from technology after hours kicks in

TORONTO — Ontario’s right to disconnect policy comes into effect today. Here’s what you need to know:

What happened?

Late last year, the province enacted Bill 27: Working for Workers Act, 2021, that requires employers with 25 or more people on staff as of Jan. 1, 2022 to have a policy as of Thursday that outlines how they will ensure workers are able to disconnect from the workplace after hours.

What does it mean to disconnect from work?

The Act defines disconnecting from work as “not engaging in work-related communications, including emails, telephone calls, video calls or sending or reviewing other messages, to be free from the performance of work.”

What does this policy mean for employers and employees?

Employers must provide staff with a written copy of the policy.

The policy applies to all employees, including management and executives.

Other details:

Starting in 2023, employers with 25 workers or more will need to have a written policy on disconnecting from work in place before March 1 of that year.

For employers with multiple locations, all workers across locations must be included in the count.

How did we get here?

Inspired by a 2016 law giving workers in France the right to turn off electronic work devices outside of business hours, Canada’s federal government started reviewing labour standards and mulling whether to give workers the right to ignore work-related messages when at home in 2018.

A committee convened last October was expected to analyze the issue and provide then-labour minister Filomena Tassi with recommendations in the spring.

But the province opted not to wait for federal regulations.

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