REMINDER – Bill 27: Working for Workers Act Policy on Disconnecting from Work

Posted on April 11th, 2022 in General Business, Human Resources Advisory

Man sitting in front of a computer late at night working

The Government of Ontario passed Bill 27: Working for Workers Act on December 2, 2021. The legislation includes among other things, the requirement that Ontario employers with 25 or more employees prepare a written policy on disconnecting from work by June 2, 2022.

Disconnecting from work under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) is defined as not engaging in work-related communications, including emails, telephone calls, video calls, or the sending or reviewing of other messages, so as to be free from the performance of work. However, the ESA does not require an employer to create a new right for employees to disconnect from work and be free from the obligation to engage in work-related communications in its policies.

In developing a written policy, employers should ensure that the policy meets the following requirements:

  • pertains to disconnecting from work as defined in the ESA
  • includes the date it was prepared and where applicable, the date of any changes to the policy
  • covers all employees however you may have different policies for different groups of staff
  • is in place by June 2, 2022

Employers must provide a copy of the written policy to all employees within 30 calendar days of:

  • the policy being prepared
  • the policy being changed (if any changes have been made)
  • a new employee being hired

The employer may provide the policy to employees as:

  • a printed copy
  • an attachment in an email if the employee can print a copy
  • a link to the document online if the employee has a reasonable opportunity to access the document

Guidelines for the content of the policy have been left open-ended and are subject to the employer’s discretion. The Ontario Ministry of Labour provides some examples of what the policy may address related to employer communication with employees:

  • time
  • subject
  • who is contacting the employee
  • employer requirements regarding out of office notifications or voicemail messages

Applicable employers are encouraged to consider the circumstances surrounding their own workplace and ensure that an appropriate policy is implemented prior to the government deadline.

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