On your day off, enjoy your freedom without being bothered by your boss. In Australia they will amend the law specifically for this purpose. Politicians say residents work an average of six weeks of unpaid overtime every year, and this must stop. “This time is yours. Not your boss's.”
It will be known to every employee. You're just flopping on the couch, exhausted, and your phone rings. He's your boss, whether you want to do a quick job for him or not. Of course not, it's after hours and he's supposed to leave you alone. This is how it should be for many people. But believe it or not: ignoring your boss is not always without consequences in Australia (and also in the Netherlands). If this is not expressly stated in the collective labor agreement, the employer can always contact you.
This is now coming to an end in Australia, he writes CNN. Australia introduces a law stating that employees have the right not to be accessed. This protects them from stress and overwhelming workload, and from the risk of burnout and other health complaints. Employers who continue to harass their employees outside working hours risk hefty fines. The “right to disconnect”, as it is officially called there, should protect the rights of Australian workers and help “restore the troubled work-life balance”.
Years ago, France gave employees the right to remain out of work after their employment period ended. French employers and employees must conclude agreements about this. Now Australia is also changing course, and that's big news there. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said in a conversation with Australian media: “What we are simply saying is that someone who is not paid 24 hours a day should not be penalized if they are not online and available 24 hours a day.” It seems obvious, but not everyone agrees. Some politicians and business leaders warn that the law will have a negative impact on flexible working and undermine competitiveness.
Therefore, the majority in Parliament thinks differently about this matter. The Greens leader has reached an agreement with Labor and the minor parties to support this bill, Greens leader Adam Bandt says on Social X. “Australians work an average of six weeks of unpaid overtime every year,” he says. This equates to more than $92 billion in unpaid wages across the economy. “This time is yours. Not your boss's.”
The boundaries of work and private life have become more blurred
Although the right to inaccessibility seems logical, it is not formally enshrined in law in the Netherlands. In 2021, the PvdA introduced an amendment to the law that should regulate this right to inaccessibility. The Council of State then stated that such a change in the law was not necessary. The current Working Conditions Act (Arbowet) already includes provisions on “psychosocial work tax”, according to the council. The law provides frameworks within which employers and employees are given the opportunity to reach agreements about work pressure, even outside working hours. Furthermore, the Council of State recognizes that “an increasing number of people are suffering from burnout and that work is a common issue.”
When he introduced the bill, Jes van Dijk (PvdA) said that the separation between work and private life has become increasingly blurred in the Netherlands. “After working hours, you deserve the opportunity to clear your mind and pay attention to the really important things in life,” the Social Democrat said. “And I believe your boss should no longer expect you to respond to emails, phone calls, or texts.”
In some sectors, this right is stipulated in the collective labor agreement, for example for healthcare workers in hospitals. Since last year, they have had the right to block phone calls from their boss outside working hours without any consequences.
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