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Balancing Work and Life: An Insight into the 'Right to Disconnect' Movement

In an era where the boundaries between work and personal life are increasingly blurred, the introduction of the 'Right to Disconnect' legislation marks a significant shift in workplace dynamics. This new rule, aimed at empowering employees, asserts their right to ignore work-related communications outside standard working hours, unless such contact is deemed reasonable.

When Will This Change Take Effect?

The legislation will come into force six months following Royal Assent. However, for small businesses with fewer than 15 employees, a grace period of 18 months is provided to adapt to the new regulations.

What Changes Are Being Made?

Under the 'Right to Disconnect', employees can refuse to engage with work-related communications—such as emails, phone calls, or messages—outside their normal working hours. This provision also extends to third-party contacts related to work. The fundamental principle here is the reasonableness of the refusal, which balances employee wellbeing with business needs.

This right is designed not only to allow employees to unplug after hours but also to set clear boundaries regarding work-life balance. However, it's crucial to understand that this right is not absolute. Employers can still require after-hours contact if it's reasonable, considering factors like the urgency of the issue, the employee's role, and personal circumstances.

Implications for Businesses and Employees

Businesses may need to reassess their operational strategies and communication policies. The legislation introduces additional layers of consideration, potentially complicating out-of-hours communication. Employers must now navigate the fine line between reasonable and unreasonable contact, with disputes possibly escalating to the Fair Work Commission.

For employees, this change reinforces the importance of work-life balance and provides a legal framework to support their right to disconnect. However, they must also understand the conditions under which they are expected to remain contactable.

What Can Businesses Do?

To comply with the new regulations and minimise disputes, businesses should:

  • Clearly define out-of-hours contact expectations in job offers, contracts, and policies.

  • Tailor benefits packages to reflect the expectation of some out-of-hours engagement.

  • Engage in open dialogue with employees to establish mutual understanding and expectations regarding availability.


The 'Right to Disconnect' is a progressive step towards recognising the importance of mental health and work-life balance in the modern workplace.

While it presents challenges for both employers and employees, it also offers an opportunity to foster a more respectful and productive work environment. By embracing clear communication and setting reasonable expectations, businesses can adapt to this new legislation while supporting their employees' right to unplug and recharge.

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