What Is the Right to Disconnect?

The right to disconnect is a principle of labor law that limits employees’ obligation to be connected to communication tools (email, phone, internal messaging apps) outside normal working hours. Some countries require a right to disconnect policy by law.

Why Is the Right to Disconnect Necessary?

Having the right to disconnect lowers stress, overwhelm and the risks of burnout. The positive impacts for a company include reduced turnover and greater attractiveness.

Is There a Right to Disconnect in Canada?

Canada has not yet established a right to disconnect for all workers. Provinces and territories that wish to do so may, however, put in place disconnect-from-work legislation.

In Ontario, for example, a law requires companies with more than 25 employees to implement a disconnecting from work policy. They must provide a written copy to all their employees.

In Quebec, there is no law requiring companies to have a right to disconnect policy. The choice is up to employers, who can implement a policy if they so choose.

How Do You Define Normal Working Hours at a Company?

A normal work schedule includes the hours normally worked by company employees and excludes days off, holidays, evenings, weekends, commuting time and vacations. For companies where everyone shares the same work schedule, such as in an office, creating a policy is fairly straightforward.

However, in some activity sectors such as catering, pharmaceuticals and retail, for example, normal working hours may vary according to business hours and employee availability. A clear right-to-disconnect policy that takes into account employees’ various constraints is a common way to protect workers’ mental health.

How Do You Draft a Right to Disconnect Policy?

A right-to-disconnect policy makes it clear what rules are in place at a company.

To put together a right-to-disconnect policy, it is essential to:

  1. Know the laws in effect in your country
  2. Ask employees about disconnecting and assess their needs
  3. Write the policy so that it applies to all employees, taking into account any exceptions
  4. Distribute the policy to employees
  5. Lead by example by enforcing the policy rules
  6. Update the policy as practices evolve

There are many examples of disconnect policies available for free download.

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