Pursuant to the Working for Workers Act, 2021, all employers in the Province of Ontario, that had at least 25 employees as of January 1, 2022, will be required by June 2, 2022 to have a written policy on “Disconnecting from Work”.
Apart from setting out the date on which such policy was prepared and/or revised and sharing it with your employees within 30 days of its creation and/or of the employee’s hire, the legislature has provided little guidance on what the policy must contain. Notably, the legislation does not mandate that employees must be given a right to disconnect from work-related communications outside normal work hours. Rather, despite the inference in the title of such policy, the intention appears simply that employers must turn their minds to this issue and make their expectations clear. Note that most employees will be subject to such a policy; only those persons to whom the Employment Standards Act (“ESA”) does not apply (i.e. pursuant to subsections 3(2) to (5) of the ESA), are exempt. However, an employer can set different requirements for different employees or groups of employees.
In preparing the Disconnecting from Work Policy, employers should be careful not to confer a greater benefit than may otherwise be required under the ESA and/or the employee’s employment agreement. If your employees are required to engage in work-related communications outside regular work hours, this may trigger an entitlement to additional pay, unless exempted by their employment agreement and/or the overtime provisions of the ESA where applicable.
Our experienced employment lawyers are available to provide whatever assistance you require to meet this new legislative requirement.