How your boss could be PUNISHED for contacting you after hours under new plan spruiked by Albo’s government – as companies erupt
Bosses could soon be fined for contacting their employees outside normal working hours in a move that has sparked outrage among some business advocates.
The Albanian government is expected to introduce the second part of its Closing Loopholes legislation to parliament this week, including the controversial ‘right to disconnect’ amendment.
Workplace Relations Minister Tony Burke is discussing industrial relations changes with the Senate crossbench, whose support the government needs to pass the bill.
“It’s a pretty light touch, but it also establishes a principle that shouldn’t be a controversial principle, which is, in Australia, you’re meant to be paid when you work,” Mr Burke said Sky News on Sunday.
He said workers would only be able to take their complaints to the Fair Work Commission, which bans contact outside of work when requests have gotten ‘completely out of hand’.
Australian employers’ organizations have warned it would be “devastating” if the Albanian government passes legislation that would fine bosses for contacting employees outside normal working hours. A woman who looks unhappy to receive a phone call is pictured
Business Council of Australia chief executive Bran Black warned of the huge problems such legislation could cause for employers with staff working in different time zones.
“This could be devastating for businesses across Australia and cause chaos for Western Australian businesses, particularly if employees can only communicate with east coast colleagues in the narrow window between east coast business hours and those in the west,” he said. Australian Financial Review.
“Imagine if employees in Sydney or Melbourne were banned from emailing an employee in Perth until noon to match WA time, or if a Perth manager were to break the law by provide an update to his or her east coast colleagues after 2 p.m.”
However, Mr Burke said the legislation was designed to protect workers from being ‘constantly on call without being paid for it’.
“I do think there is a real problem for some workers, I’m interested in trying to fix that for them,” he said.
‘We are also very aware that there are reasonable grounds for an employer to want to contact their workers outside of hours. We have to make sure it’s protected too.’
Workplace expert Natasha Hawker from Employment Affairs said the majority of workers disagreed with the proposed legislation.
“I don’t think it should be a one-size-fits-all approach,” she said sunrise on Monday morning.
The Government is expected to introduce the second part of its Closing Loopholes legislation to parliament this week, including the controversial ‘right to disconnect’ amendment’. A call from the job that comes through after hours is pictured
Workplace Relations Minister Tony Burke (pictured) discusses industrial relations changes with the Senate crossbench, whose support the government needs to pass the bill
‘So many Australian workers are very happy about working from home at the moment and they realize that flexibility works both ways. And so they are very happy to have it.’
Ms Hawker said there was a ‘doubling down’ in that legislation already introduced last year forced every business to screen their employees.
She said if out-of-hours contact was a problem, “it would come out of the survey if it was an issue and then you would deal with it then and most employers actually haven’t done that survey yet,” which they already post . ‘danger of fines’.
The expert added that ‘since Covid (the power in the workplace) has changed. We are in the tightest applicant market we have been in for many years.
‘So employees who don’t get what they want actually vote with their feet and they leave and we still find it incredibly difficult to recruit top talent at the moment.’
Because of the tight hiring market, Ms Hawker said businesses that contact employees too often outside of hours could find that ‘it can end up working against them’.
Ultimately she said ‘this is just another piece of legislation that they’re going to have to get their heads around and comply with if this, if it passes’.
However, Mr Burke said the law would not stop a boss from calling a worker after hours to, for example, ask if they could fill a gap in the roster that had just arisen.
‘We are also very aware there are reasonable grounds for an employer to want to contact their workers out of hours, including by email.
“We have to make sure it’s protected as well,” he said.