How Will Ontario’s “Right to Disconnect” Law Affect Small Businesses

By Nicole Carter | March 22, 2022 | Human Resource Templates

On June 2, 2022, Ontario’s Bill 27, the Working for Workers Act 2021, will take effect. The bill, also known as the “right to disconnect” law, gives employees the right to disconnect from work activities or communication before or after work hours. This is a huge change for small and large businesses in Ontario, who will now be required to develop a “right to disconnect” policy. This blog post will discuss what the “right to disconnect” law means for small businesses in Ontario and how they can prepare for it.

What is Ontario’s Working for Workers Act 2021

Ontario’s Working for Workers Act 2021, introduced in November 2021, proposed several changes in Ontario’s Labour Standards Act. The new bill aims to improve protection and support for workers, provide Ontario with a competitive advantage in attracting innovative global talent, eliminate agencies that engage in unethical behaviours.

To read the full breakdown of the bill, follow this link

“Right to Disconnect” Law

One of the most significant changes coming is the right to disconnect policy. To improve work-life balance, the act would require employers with 25 or more employees to have a written policy encouraging employees to disconnect from their job at the end of the workday.

Although this bill doesn’t apply to businesses with fewer than 25 employees, it might be a good idea to implement a version of it. In a time when there is a significant labour shortage, employees are seeking companies that encourage a healthy work-life balance.

Is Ontario the First Province To Do This?

Yes. Ontario is the first province to introduce this kind of bill that prioritizes workers’ mental health and a healthier work/life balance. Quebec is also developing a similar bill and the Canadian federal government is also exploring the option to prohibit federal employees from responding to phone calls, e-mails, texts during off-hours.

What Does the “Right To Disconnect” Law Mean For Small Businesses

Although the new bill gives no specific guidance on what the right to disconnect policy must include, for the most part, the policy should

  • Encourage employees to turn off work notifications when they aren’t working
  • Set clear expectations about response time for e-mails
  • Set clear expectations for hybrid-work models
  • Encourage employees to take their vacation time

You’ll also want to take the following into account

  • Who does the policy apply to?
  • Who is responsible for monitoring and enforcing the policy?
  • How will it impact your workflow and business goals?
  • What is the process in the event of a complaint or violation of the policy?

HR professionals will play a key role in drafting this policy. They will have to keep track of employee concerns, ensure compliance and monitor implementation.

How Can You Prepare For This Change?

If you are a small business owner in Ontario, the first step is to become familiar with the new law and what it means for your business. You should also start planning how you will implement a “right to disconnect” policy at your company, as the bill will take effect on June 2, 2022.

If you’re looking for help creating a policy, and wondering how to implement it in your small business, reach out to us at HR Factor for step-by-step support!

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