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Australia To Bring Legislation To Give Right To Disconnect To Workers

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Australia is set to implement legislation that would grant employees the freedom to refuse irrational calls and messages from their supervisors during non-working hours. Employers that violate this policy may face fines.

The “right to disconnect” is one of many amendments to labour rules that the federal government is proposing as part of a parliamentary measure that it claims will uphold workers’ rights and promote work-life harmony.

France, Spain, and other European Union nations already have legislation granting their employees the ability to turn off their gadgets.

According to a statement released on Wednesday by Employment Minister Tony Burke of the ruling center-left Labour party, the majority of senators have now stated their support for the measure.

“What we are simply saying is that someone who isn’t being paid 24 hours a day shouldn’t be penalised if they’re not online and available 24 hours a day,” Prime Minister Anthony Albanese told reporters earlier on Wednesday.

Later this week, the bill is anticipated to be submitted in parliament.

Other aspects of the measure include minimum criteria for truck drivers and temporary workers as well as a more transparent transition from temporary to permanent employment.

Politicians, employer associations, and business executives expressed concerns that the freedom to disconnect clause went too far and would hurt the shift to flexible work arrangements and reduce competitiveness.

It was hailed as a major victory for the party by the left-wing Greens, who had proposed the regulation the previous year and still support it. Adam Bandt, the leader of the Greens, tweeted that a compromise had been made between Labour, smaller parties, and independents to support this bill.

“Australians work an average of six weeks unpaid overtime each year,” Bandt stated. He continued by saying that this translated to almost A$92 billion ($60.13 billion) in unpaid wages throughout the economy. “That time is yours. Not your boss’.”

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