Employers unhappy with Ontario's education on 'right to disconnect'

'Government communication and clarity is particularly important, since the legislation doesn't specify what has to be in it'

Employers unhappy with Ontario's education on 'right to disconnect'

Has the Ontario government done enough to educate employers about its new right-to-disconnect legislation?

The law officially kicked in on June 3, however, 77 per of small employers in the province rated the government’s efforts to educate them about the policy as “poor” or “very poor”.

A further 33 per cent were not aware they required a policy by the deadline, according to a survey by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).

Just 16 per cent of respondents had in place a policy before June 2.

“Government communication and clarity is particularly important for this policy, since the legislation doesn’t specify what has to be in it,” says Julie Kwiecinski, CFIB director of provincial affairs for Ontario. “The policy allows lots of flexibility, but it’s harder to comply and avoid paying a possible administrative penalty when the rules aren’t crystal clear.”

Canadian HR Reporter spoke with legal experts who questioned the reasoning behind Ontario's right-to-disconnect proposal, citing employee preferences for flexibility and the challenges of enforcement.

The term “disconnecting from work” is defined in the province’s Employment Standards Act as “not engaging in work-related communications, including emails, telephone calls, video calls or the sending or reviewing of other messages, so as to be free from the performance of work.”

Nearly half (48 per cent) of small employers said CFIB is their primary source of information for understanding the policy, while 18 per cent don’t have a primary source, finds the survey.

A right-to-disconnect policy would be tricky to put in place and police, according to Ronald Minken, founder and managing principal at Minken Employment Lawyers, in talking to Canadian HR Reporter.

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