Does your Workplace Require a Disconnect from Work Policy?
The Ontario government recently passed Bill 27 which amended the Employment Standards Act (“ESA”) to require that certain employers put in place written policies around disconnecting from work. This applies to all employers who employed more than 25 workers as of January 1st, 2022, and it requires those covered to have a written policy in place for June 2nd, 2022. Moving forward into 2023 and beyond, the Bill will require any employer who has 25 employees as of January 1st of that year to have a written policy in place before March 1st of that same year. When considering if the new rules apply to you, you should always look to how many employees you had as of January 1st – for example, if you fell below 25 employees on June 30th, this date does not matter, and you should still look back to January 1st. Please keep in mind that an independent contractor is not considered an employee under the ESA so would not be included in the employee count.
The definition of “disconnecting from work” under the ESA is to not engage in work related communications including emails, phone or video calls, or sending/reviewing of other messages, so that one can be free from the performance of work. However, while your policy must be about disconnecting, the new legislation does not provide specific requirements for its contents, nor does it create a “right to disconnect.” The Ministry of Labour has issued a guideline with suggested topics to be included in the policy. This guideline is not law. We anticipate that regulations and/or laws will be implemented in the future which do mandate to contents of the policies.
If you require a policy on disconnecting from work in your workplace, or even if It is not a requirement yet for your workplace but you would still like one, our employment group would be happy to prepare this for you.
By Sasha Willms and Sean Ovas