Zubas Flett Law Lawyer, Ted Flett, spoke with Merella Fernandez of CTV News about the new laws in Ontario pertaining to disconnecting from work and its impact on employers and employees.
Click here or on the video below to view the newscast.
Read the full transcript below.
Merella Fernandez: The Right to Disconnect. It’s a new law that’s in effect, but what does it actually mean? For more on that let’s go to Ted Flett, employment lawyer from Zubas Flett Law. Thanks for your time tonight.
Ted Flett: Thank you. Good evening.
MF: For many overworked employees, you can imagine this sounds fantastic. The idea being that if you are not at work, you don’t need to respond to work emails for example, but who does this actually apply to?
TF: So Merella, the law now essentially requires that employers with 25 or more employees are required to implement and distribute a written policy that addresses the disconnecting from work matter or issue. It’s a little misleading to call it a right because it’s more of a principle and essentially work is defined for the purposes of the policy as looking at, reviewing and responding to communications as well as performing work.
MF: Okay, so if you are an employee and your manager puts this out or your company puts this out and you follow it, for example you stop responding to emails or phone calls after a certain time and then get reprimanded, what happens?
TF: Well, it’s sort of going to depend and this is one of the challenges Merella, is that the law essentially says that employer has to have a policy in place but what that policy says and how it applies to, let’s say, different types of employees, whether you work on the shop floor or you work in the executive suite, is going to vary depending on the industry, the employer, the sector etc.
MF: Okay, so are there obvious exemptions?
TF: No, essentially there are no exemptions. It’s just that, overtime abilities will still exist. Employees’ claims or potential to claim overtime if they’re eligible for overtime will still exist.
MF: Okay, so it sounds to me like there is no penalty for a company for not abiding by certain rules that you would expect as far as disconnecting go.
TF: We’re going to have to watch to see what the Ministry of Labour arbitrators and mediators say in response to this, as well as judges in terms of the coming years when there’s been breaches of the disconnecting from work policies or even having the policies.
MF: Does it have any teeth?
TF: Not yet, not much to be honest with you. It’s really more of a philosophy and trying to unblurr the blurred lines between personal lives and professional lives that were created in part from the pandemic with the Work from Home mandates or the lockdowns that really blurred those lines.
MF: Okay Ted, so if you’re an employee and you’re excited about this idea, how would you advise them? What would you say?
TF: I would say, wait to see the policy. If there isn’t a policy, ask for one and once you have the policy, assess it, read it, take questions to your employer and hold your employer to the fire in terms of what’s in the policy, what it contains and how it’s distinguishing your work life from your personal life.
MF: Quick questions as far as deadline for the policy to come out, has that been spelled out? Do we know when companies need to have a policy in place?
TF: As of June 1st policies were to be in place. Now it’s important that employers monitor their headcount of employees. If they don’t have 25 employees as of right now, then they don’t have to have the policy, however if that headcount increases as of January 1, 2023, then they’re going to have to have a policy by March.
MF: Got it. Alright Ted Flett, appreciate you joining us on the program sir. Thanks for your time tonight.
TF: Thank you, Good evening.