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    The Right to Disconnect

    Right to Disconnect

    On December 2, 2021, the Ontario government passed Bill 27, the Working for Workers Act, 2021, amending various pieces of legislation, including the Employment Standards Act, 2000. One of those changes includes the employee’s “right to disconnect”, explained below.

    Right to Disconnect

    Employers that have 25 or more employees must now have a written policy with respect to disconnecting from work. “Disconnecting from work” means not engaging in work-related communications, including emails, telephone calls, video calls or the sending or reviewing of other work-related messages.

    Employers have a grace period of six months to implement such a policy (i.e., June 2, 2022).

    Unfortunately, the government has not yet provided any guidance in terms of what these policies must contain. The legislation only establishes that the policy shall “contain such information as may be prescribed.” 

    Workplace policies might include restrictions on responding to communications after work hours. For example, France has introduced legislation which grants workers the right not to respond to work-related communications after their core hours.

    Non-compete agreement

    The amendments also prohibit employers from entering into employment contracts which are, or include, a non-compete agreement. These prohibitions are now in force, retroactive to October 25, 2021. The legislation includes exemptions pertaining to the sale of a business, as well as for “executives.” 

    What does this mean for employers?

    Employers will need to review and update their workplace policies. This may be a good time to begin a conversation about how the workplace is changing, and what is expected of employees in a hybrid work environment. Employers should also review their existing employee agreements. Some restrictive covenants may need to be removed or rewritten.

    What does this mean for employees?

    It is difficult to know whether these policies will have any “teeth” until further information is provided.  Nothing in the legislation as drafted prohibits employers from establishing an employment relationship where employees are “on call.” How your workplace deals with the right to disconnect may vary greatly depending on the type of industry you work in.

    If you have any questions regarding Bill 27 or workplace policies, contact our Employment Lawyers at Merovitz Potechin LLP.

    The content on this website is for information purposes only and is not legal advice, which cannot be given without knowing the facts of a specific situation. You should never disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking legal advice because of something you have read on this website. The use of the website does not establish a solicitor and client relationship. If you would like to discuss your specific legal needs with us, please contact our office at 613-563-7544 and one of our lawyers will be happy to assist you.

    David Contant

    Posted By: David Contant of Merovitz Potechin LLP

    Head of Litigation Group

    David Contant is the head of the Litigation Group at Merovitz Potechin LLP. David is certified by the Law Society of Ontario as a Specialist in Civil Litigation, and has extensive experience in commercial litigation, employment law and construction claims.

    Prior to joining Merovitz Potechin, David was a partner at one of Ottawa’s leading full-service law firms.

    David is a passionate advocate for his clients, priding himself on his practical approach to files, and his ability to work creatively with other counsel to resolve matters. His focus is on cutting the Gordian Knot and getting the job done as efficiently as possible.

    David provides advice to both employers and employees in the areas of wrongful and constructive dismissal claims, accommodation and human rights, terminations, and issues arising from employment contracts. He also represents individuals who have had their claim for long-term disability benefits denied.

    Throughout his career, David has litigated a broad range of commercial matters and has acted on behalf of owners, general contractors, and subcontractors with respect to construction disputes of all kinds.

    Outside of work, David enjoys spending time with his family, particularly outdoors.

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