How to manage the right to disconnect

How to manage the right to disconnect

Latest News & Events

How to manage the right to disconnect

example flexible working arrangement

From 26 August 2024, employers with 15 or more employees have to respect employees’ right to disconnect from work outside their contracted working hours. Smaller employers will have those obligations 12 months later. What does it mean for your business and what do you need to do?  

What is the right to disconnect?

Here is how it is described in the Fact Sheet published by the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations:

“The right to disconnect will inform how employers and employees interact outside  of working hours. The right does not prohibit employers from contacting their employees, nor does it prevent employees from contacting each other, including across time zones. Rather, the employee will be able to refuse to monitor, read or respond to contact, or attempted contact outside of working hours, when they are not expected to be working or paid to be working, so long as doing so is not unreasonable.” 

So it doesn’t prohibit making contact with employees outside their contracted working hours – it just provides that they don’t have to respond to such contact outside their contracted working hours other than in limited circumstances.

The real obligations on employers are to not unreasonably require someone to respond to contact after hours and not to penalise people for exercising their right to disconnect. 

Inclusion in modern awards

The Fair Work Commission has been tasked with inserting “right to disconnect” clauses in modern awards. 

The approach it is taking is to have a standard clause which is customised according to existing provisions in Awards which might have relevance to contact after hours such as standby or call back or roster change provisions. 

So you need to consider which awards cover your employees, what provisions they might have in regard to out of hours contact and how those provisions relate to your own operations.

It is also something that you will need to consider in enterprise agreements.

What do you need to do?

In our blog back in February on Managing disconnection from work, we noted that this really should not be that big an issue for most organisations so the first thing you should do is ignore all of the hype about it. 

Then you should undertake a constructive assessment of the effects for your organisation and your people by answering the following questions:

  • Are there any situations where employees in your organisations need to be responsive to contact outside their standard working hours for genuine operational reasons?
  • Are there provisions in a modern award or enterprise agreement which deal with the specific type or cause of contact eg someone being on standby or being called back or being contacted about a roster change or some other prescribed matter outside their standard working hours?
  • Are employees remunerated for making themselves available for contact outside working hours under the provisions of a modern award or enterprise agreement or otherwise under their contract of employment?
  • Do you have any employees who have flexibility in their hours and location of work and whose working hours might fall outside standard operating hours via a flexible working arrangement or agreement or by individual choice?
  • Do you have any protocols in place regarding out of hours contact for people who may be working outside standard working hours eg contact to other staff or external parties should only be via email with the scheduling function used to delay transmission until the start of the following working day?
  • Do you have any protocols in place with external parties in relation to their contact and their response expectations with your staff outside standard working hours?
  • Do any of your people have to operate across timezones which might cause communications to occur outside an employee’s standard working hours?
  • Do any of your managers unreasonably or unnecessarily send communications to their people outside their standard working hours, expecting them to respond outside those hours?
  • Do any external parties unreasonably and unnecessarily send communications to your people outside their standard working hours, expecting them to respond outside those hours?
  • Do you have people who you know will respond to out of hours contacts even if you don’t want them to?
  • Do you deal with out of hours contact requirements in your contracts of employment?
  • Do you verify adequacy of remuneration having regard to out of hours contact requirements where an employee is expected to respond to specified contacts?
  • Do you deal with out of hours contact happenings in your performance and development conversations?
  • Do you have a properly structured and communicated “Life balance policy” which includes details on the organisation’s expectations and processes for management of out of hours contact and the employee right to disconnect? 

Other tips

As with any matter around people and culture, we encourage you to look at these things on 3 levels – organisational, team and individual – and please do that by engaging with your people in determining what the realities for your business and people are and covering off all of the bases. 

Remember it is about your business and your people so don’t just borrow or buy a policy statement from someone else and remember our 4C compliance model because unless you do all 4Cs, you are not truly compliant:

  • Commitment – the fundamentals that deliver purpose and compliance
  • Capability – the tools and systems that enable good people practice
  • Competency – the skills and knowledge that deliver positive outcomes for businesses and people
  • Culture – the integration of all of that to deliver everyday employee engagement and high performance.

How we can help?

We can hep you to get the right answers to all of the questions that we have said you need to be asking in determining how your business is going to responsibly manage your employees’ right to disconnect.

We can advise you on remuneration in line wth award provisions and we can be-you with policies and employment contracts as well as advices to ay “problem individuals” who might need to modify their habits so as not to interfere with other employees’ right to disconnect.

If you would like to learn more about ways that we help with this or any other HR issue, please call us on 1300 108 488 or email us at enquiries@ridgelinehr.com.au.

CONTACT US

Ridgeline Human Resources Pty Ltd
ABN : 24 091 644 094

enquiries@ridgelinehr.com.au

6 Ellesmere Ave, Croydon Victoria 3136

1300 108 488

PARTNER LINKS

Smilsafe

TELL US WHAT YOU NEED HELP WITH

New workshops – understanding psychosocial hazards

New workshops – understanding psychosocial hazards

Latest News & Events

New workshops – understanding psychosocial hazards

example flexible working arrangement

The introduction of the new positive duty to eliminate or control psychosocial hazards casts a whole new perspective on what organisations need to do to be compliant with their legal obligations and be seen to manage this duty  responsibly. It really does require a significant shift in mindset and an overhaul of how you manage policies, processes, practices and people.  

Background

At Ridgeline HR, we developed our 4C compliance model 20 years ago and it really does stand up when you look at what a positive duty requires. It is much more than just putting out a policy, telling people they have to comply with it and reacting to resolve any breaches or complaints.

That is because we have always believed that the key PEOPLE FACTORS that SMBs have to get right are the quality of relationships and the behaviour of their people. They are very much in focus under the positive duties. 

So we are well versed in all of this stuff.

Our Workshops

We are offering organisations the opportunity to leverage our experience and knowledge in this space via engaging and practical workshops for your leadership team or your consultative/safety committee or other representative body.

The workshops which run for 3 hours are highly interactive and designed to engage participants in the process of developing an appropriate and effective organisational response to the introduction of the positive duty.

 Learning outcomes

 Participants will gain:

  • Knowledge of what the psychosocial hazards are and why they are psychosocial hazards
  • A practical awareness of the questions that organisations need to be asking with respect to each of the psychosocial hazards and how risks associated with psychosocial hazards can manifest in workplaces through policies, processes, practices and people.
  • An understanding of how multiple psychosocial hazards can be in play and compound risks.
  • An appreciation of the value of recognising organisational strengths as well as areas for improvement and the difference that approaching this with a positive mindset can make.
  • An introduction to our purpose designed HEART framework for implementing an effective psychosocial hazard control plan with your people. 
  • A practical start on developing your own organisational Psychosocial Hazard Risk Control Plan.

Options

We can deliver this workshop in person or online.

We can also provide a number of ancillary services such as:

    • Our Better Workplace Projects where we take a deep dive into your organisation having conversations with a representative cross section of your people to identify strengths and opportunities for improvements
    • Conducting surveys of your people using the best practice PERMAH Workplace Wellbeing Survey and/or its companion psychosocial hazard survey and unpacking the results with you
    • Setting up, training and facilitating your own Better Workplace Team to really take hold of the well-being agenda in your workplace and collaboratively drive improvements
    • Helping to redesign and reposition your People and Culture policies and procedures to align with your new positive duty obligations 

 Contact us using the “Tell us what you need help with” form below to arrange your session.

CONTACT US

Ridgeline Human Resources Pty Ltd
ABN : 24 091 644 094

enquiries@ridgelinehr.com.au

6 Ellesmere Ave, Croydon Victoria 3136

1300 108 488

PARTNER LINKS

Smilsafe

TELL US WHAT YOU NEED HELP WITH

Webinar #3 – What do these new positive duties mean?

Webinar #3 – What do these new positive duties mean?

Latest News & Events

Webinar #3 – What do these new positive duties mean?

example flexible working arrangement

Complying with Australian employment laws has been a challenge for businesses of all sizes for many years but that challenge has gone up a notch with the introduction of positive duties. Plus, we are seeing individuals being prosecuted and personally fined or even face jail time in serious cases under workplace health and safety laws and the Fair Work Act. 

In this episode, we’ll show you what positive duties really mean in practical terms and what you need to do to assure compliance and we’ll run you through our own HEART model for positive duty compliance.

What you will learn in the webinar:

  • What does positive duty mean legally and in practice?
  • How is it different from the pre=existing compliance regime?
  • Why has it changed?
  • Some practical examples of applying the positive duty to real workplace situations
  • What you (as a business owner, employer, manager, HR or WHS practitioner) need to know ?
  • How to use our HEART model for positive duty compliance.

Bookings at https://www.trybooking.com/CQQIC.

If you would like to learn more about ways that we can do this, please call us on 1300 108 488 or email us at enquiries@ridgelinehr.com.au.

CONTACT US

Ridgeline Human Resources Pty Ltd
ABN : 24 091 644 094

enquiries@ridgelinehr.com.au

6 Ellesmere Ave, Croydon Victoria 3136

1300 108 488

PARTNER LINKS

Smilsafe

TELL US WHAT YOU NEED HELP WITH

New webinar series on HR compliance for small businesses

New webinar series on HR compliance for small businesses

Latest News & Events

New webinar series on HR compliance for small businesses

example flexible working arrangement

From next month, we will be running free monthly webinars specifically designed to assist small to medium businesses in understanding their legal obligations as employers and to provide them with guidance on how to manage those obligations in practice. We are doing this because we are going through the biggest period of change in employment laws, modern awards and compliance requirements ever and that is further complicating what is already an extremely complex obligation for business owners and employers . There are seven sessions running from May to November.

The first of these webinars (on Tuesday 21 May 2024 from 10.30 to 11.15) is about all of the changes that are happening in the Fair Work Act, modern awards and other legislation….there are around 70 changes over a period of 3 years. See our video with the timeline on all of these changes: https://ridgelinehr.com.au/navigating-the-biggest-era-of-change-in-hr-ever/

Unfortunately, there is a lot of noise out there about changes that have little if any impact and lack of clarity about the ones that do. We’ll cut through the noise and tell you what matters and what you should do about it. Book in for free at https://www.trybooking.com/CQQHD or via the QR code in the image.

The subsequent webinars are:

  • Episode #2: Tuesday 18 June 2024: Understanding the Fair Work system and the players
  • Episode #3: Tuesday 16 July 2024: What do these new positive duties mean for SMBs?
  • Episode #4: Tuesday 20 August 2024: What are National Employment Standards? 
  • Episode #5: Tuesday 17 September 2024: What are modern awards and how do they work?
  • Episode #6: Tuesday 15 October 2024: What are psychosocial hazards and how to deal with them?
  • Episode #7: Tuesday 19 November 2024: Preventing sexual harassment and gender-based behaviours

If you have any questions that you need answered urgently, please contact us on 1300 108 488 or at enquiries@ridgelinehr.com.au.

CONTACT US

Ridgeline Human Resources Pty Ltd
ABN : 24 091 644 094

enquiries@ridgelinehr.com.au

6 Ellesmere Ave, Croydon Victoria 3136

1300 108 488

PARTNER LINKS

Smilsafe

TELL US WHAT YOU NEED HELP WITH

Using PERMAH for your POSITIVE DUTY

Using PERMAH for your POSITIVE DUTY

Latest News & Events

Using PERMAH for your POSITIVE DUTY

example flexible working arrangement

Above image is courtesy of The Wellbeing Lab/Michelle McQuaid Group.

 

Background

Under Workplace Health and Safety laws, a positive duty to eliminate or control psychosocial hazards has been imposed on all persons conducting a business or undertaking.

This means that the traditional compliance approach of issuing a policy and procedures, providing them to workers, requiring their compliance with them and acting on incidents or breaches when they are reported is not adequate any more.

It is necessary to conduct a thorough risk assessment to see whether any risks from each of the 14 psychosocial hazards in the Model code for managing psychosocial hazards published by Safe Work Australia and as set out in legislation enacted by each State or Territory.

There is also a duty to consult workers at each stage of the process and especially in relation to identifying risks and designing and implementing control plans and measures. 

One way to start addressing both the risk assessment and consultation obligations is to survey workers with an appropriate survey instrument. Our choice to do that is the PERMAH Workplace Wellbeing Survey.

Why have we chosen PERMAH?

The PERMAH workplace wellbeing framework is based on the ground-breaking wellbeing theory developed by Professor Martin Seligman as published in his celebrated work “Flourish”.

The PERMAH survey tool has been used by the Australian Human Resources Institute since 2018 as a national workplace wellbeing benchmarking tool and Small Business Victoria as the centrepiece of its small business wellbeing programs.

A unique feature of the PERMAH Survey is that every person who does the survey gets their own individual State of Wellbeing Report plus a template for developing a wellbeing plan plus access to a heap of wellbeing resources….all for free.

Organisations with 30 or more employees can acquire an annual licence and obtain organisational reports which show the aggregated findings on wellbeing in the organisation through the eyes and experiences of its people.

We have a team of people who have undertaken Certificates in Creating Wellbeing and in Leading Psychological Safety and Care and are accredited to debrief people on their PERMAH Survey results.

With the advent of the positive duty to eliminate or control psychosocial hazards, the survey has been augmented with a panel of additional questions specifically related to each of the 14 psychosocial hazards detailed in Safe Work Australia’s model code.

So we believe that the PERMAH Workplace Survey with the Psychosocial Hazard Panel Add-on ticks all of the boxes – it is science-based, it has credibility being used nationally by AHRI, it is affordable, it provides free and practical wellbeing advice and resources to everyone who does it and it addresses the psychosocial hazards in a practical and cost effective way.

How we can we help

Our “Using PERMAH for Positive Duties” service incorporates the following elements:

  • A 12 month licence for the PERMAH Workplace Wellbeing Survey including the add-on psychosocial hazard panel.
  • Ability to undertake the survey as an organisation multiple times during the licence period.
  • Templates and an animated video for communications to employees on the PERMAH Workplace Wellbeing Survey, why your organisation is doing it and how employees can participate.
  • Professional analysis of survey results, provision of a supplementary report and management debrief on the results.

We have the flexibility to package these elements in a variety of ways and to undertake other services such as individual PERMAH debriefings, training programs and facilitated sessions with leadership groups or consultative or safety committees.

Where to now?

If you would like to learn more about the positive duty to eliminate or control psychosocial hazards and your options for addressing it, we’ll be happy to advise you. Just give us a call on 1300 108 488 or email enquiries@ridgelinehr.com.au.

 

 

 

 

CONTACT US

Ridgeline Human Resources Pty Ltd
ABN : 24 091 644 094

enquiries@ridgelinehr.com.au

6 Ellesmere Ave, Croydon Victoria 3136

1300 108 488

PARTNER LINKS

Smilsafe

TELL US WHAT YOU NEED HELP WITH

Managing disconnection from work

Managing disconnection from work

Latest News & Events

Managing disconnection from work

example flexible working arrangement

The impending legislated right for workers to disconnect from work outside their contracted working hours has the usual subjects again yelling that “the sky is falling” on employers.

The thrust of the proposed changes is to discourage employers from making unreasonable contact with or demands on their employees outside their contracted working hours, to provide for people to be paid for time worked outside their contracted working hours and to have access to the Fair Work Commission to make their employer stop making unreasonable connection with or demands on them outside their contracted working hours if the Commission finds the employer to be doing so.

There will be exceptions such as if the contact is due to an emergency or for welfare purposes. People who have roles that require them to be on call as a normal feature of their job won’t be an issue as long as the connection is reasonable in that context.

It has also been made clear by the Minister that it would be reasonable to contact relevant employees if a worker did not attend work and the employer needed someone to take their place or for normal rostering purposes.

Of course, if the contact is unreasonable, that might well constitute an unreasonable job demand in any case and therefore constitute a risk arising from a psychosocial hazard under Workplace Health and Safety laws.

Do you need to contact your employees outside their contracted working hours?

For the vast majority of workplaces, the answer is probably “no, other than in the case of an emergency or for welfare purposes” – just what the proposed legislative change says.

Sure, there will be times when you are working into the night and want to get an email off to an employee for their  attention when they come in in the morning ….. but you don’t need them to see it tonight so either delay sending it until the morning or use the scheduling facility on your email service for it to automatically go to the employee’s inbox at the start of their day in the morning.

It really is that easy to manage in most cases.

What about if the employee wants a flexible working arrangement?

One of the arguments that the naysayers are putting up is that this right to disconnect will adversely affect employers’ willingness to offer flexible working hours or hybrid working arrangements.

One of the things that should be covered off in the discussions and agreement about a flexible working arrangement is how communications and connection are going to be managed by the employer and the employee.

For example, let’s say a single mum who is an accounts clerk asks for a flexible working arrangement under which she would work from 9.30 am to 2.30 pm each day and from 8.00 pm to 9.30 pm each night so that she could manage her parental responsibilities in the morning up to school drop off time and from school pick up time through to the children’s bedtime. She might come into the office in the day and do the night work from home.

The arrangement with the night work might be that she can perform tasks which do not require interaction with others (eg data entry, accounts processing, etc) but that anything requiring contact with another person is to be done either by a scheduled email issuing the following morning or deferring that item until she came into the office the next day. 

You should Include that communications protocol in the flexible working arrangement agreement to ensure that it is understood and complied with.

And guess what? That pattern of hours of work becomes that employee’s contracted hours of work so there isn’t an issue of a need for that employee to disconnect in any case because they are working.  

Again, it really is that simple to manage in most cases.

Do you really want to be contacting your employees outside their contracted hours?

Because we live in such a digitally connected “look at it now” world, if you send something to an employee outside their contracted working hours, there are many who will not be able to resist having a look.

If, by having a look, that raises something for them that creates some level of anxiety and that in turn interferes with their state of mind and/or their sleep and/or their leisure time/rest and recovery and/or the relationship with their partner……..well, do you really want an anxious, tired, sleep deprived employee coming into work the next day?

The answer should be self-evident.

Other considerations

As noted above, a failure to ensure that there is no unreasonable connection with employees outside their contracted working hours could give rise to risks associated with psychosocial hazards and Workplace Health and Safety laws require employers to exercise a positive duty to eliminate or control such risks. There are a number of psychosocial hazards that could come into play in this regard. We have a blog and explainer video on each of the 14 psychosocial hazards on our website – you can access them here

Additionally, the Fair Work Commission has just begun a review of modern awards with respect to “Work and Care” and the issue of disconnection from work will no doubt be a prominent issue in considerations in that review. See https://ridgelinehr.com.au/award-review-on-work-and-care-underway/

We will keep you informed of further developments as they occur and ensure that we tell you what the real effects of legislative changes are rather than what the scaremongers would have you believe.

If there is anything here that resonates with you and you would like to explore further, give us a call on 1300 108 488 or email enquiries@ridgelinehr.com.au. We would love to have a chat about it.

 

 

 

 

CONTACT US

Ridgeline Human Resources Pty Ltd
ABN : 24 091 644 094

enquiries@ridgelinehr.com.au

6 Ellesmere Ave, Croydon Victoria 3136

1300 108 488

PARTNER LINKS

Smilsafe

TELL US WHAT YOU NEED HELP WITH