“Right to Disconnect” on the Rise: 10 Actions to Take

an employee holding a smartphone with three digital email notification symbols

In a world where “ping” notifications seem to blur the lines between work and personal life, the concept of the “right to disconnect” is gaining traction worldwide. Australia recently followed the lead of several other countries, passing legislation that regulates work-related communications during non-work hours.

This movement underscores a growing interest in addressing the hazy boundaries between our professional and personal lives. As organizations adapt, it is important to understand how to uphold the “right to disconnect” while balancing productivity and wellbeing.

Where does the “right to disconnect” apply?

Australia’s counterparts with similar “right to disconnect” frameworks include Argentina, France, Ireland and more. Other jurisdictions are expected to adopt similar legislation in upcoming years, especially as more countries focus on remote-specific regulations.

While frameworks differ from country to country, they generally acknowledge the impact of digital tools on work-life balance. The purpose is to establish boundaries and prevent excessive intrusion into employees’ personal lives.

Other protective measures in employment have gained global recognition, such as statutory bonuses and post-termination restraints. The “right to disconnect” model is poised to gain similar acceptance. International companies with remote workforces should prioritize how these regulations may impact their operations both presently and in the future.

Act now: 10 actions to uphold the “right to disconnect”

  • Identify Areas of Concern: Proactively identify and address potential areas of non-compliance with “right to disconnect” regulations. This may include processes currently in place that require team members to respond to communication during non-work hours.  
  • Informed Decision-Making: Ensure managers and key decision-makers are aware of their obligations under the “right to disconnect” legislation. It is essential to avoid adverse actions against employees exercising their rights. Employers should also consider the impact of legislation on performance management processes. 
  • Awareness Training: Invest in training programs to raise awareness about the importance of disconnecting from work. At the same time, address any reluctance among employees to disconnect. Understanding the psychological implications of constant connectivity is essential for fostering a healthy work culture. 
  • Develop Clear Policies: Comprehensive policies should outline expectations for both employees and managers regarding after-hours contact. To minimize disputes, employers should encourage open communication and provide clear guidance for addressing concerns.  
  • Flexible Work Policies: Introduce flexible work policies that acknowledge the right to disconnect while accommodating the diverse needs and expectations of remote teams. Balancing operational requirements with employees’ wellbeing is key to promoting sustainable productivity. 
  • Update Employment Contracts: Review and update employment contracts to clarify expectations regarding after-hours contact and compensation for additional work hours. This can help mitigate legal risks.  
  • Communication Measures: Clear communication guidelines help set expectations, such as reminding employees that messages during non-work hours do not require an immediate response.  
  • Encourage Annual Leave: Actively encourage employees to utilize their annual leave entitlements. This can promote work-life balance and prevent burnout. Managers should lead by example and prioritize taking time off to recharge. 
  • Transparent Time Recording: It is important to strike a balance between monitoring productivity and respecting an employee’s privacy and right to disconnect.  
  • Utilize Technology Responsibly: Technology solutions can facilitate flexible work arrangements while respecting employees’ right to disconnect. Features, such as email hold rules and status indicators, help manage communication effectively across different time zones. 

Local expertise can help you remain compliant and proactive

If you manage a globally distributed remote team, maintaining compliance with varying “right to disconnect” laws may seem daunting. However, cross-border HR solution providers can offer invaluable assistance in this endeavor. With expert guidance, companies can navigate diverse regulations seamlessly, maintaining compliance and safeguarding the right to disconnect for employees worldwide.

The recent rise of “right to work” legislation shows how the world of work is ever changing. Utilizing innovative cross border solutions like an Employer of Record (EOR) can be a strategic approach to minimizing employment risks across the board.

With cross-border HR experts by your side, you can ensure your global operations remain compliant with rapidly evolving laws and regulations. Doing so will safeguard both your employees’ rights and the integrity of your company.

Check out our ‘What is an EOR?‘ guide or contact us to talk with an international HR expert about optimizing your compliance footprint and gaining personalized HR support.