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Australia is passing a law giving employees right to refuse after-hours calls from bosses

By AYIE LICSI Published Feb 08, 2024 7:47 pm

A law allowing employees the right to refuse calls from their bosses after work hours without facing penalty is being passed in Australia.

The bill was introduced in parliament with a majority of senators giving their approval for it on Jan. 8. However, a joint statement from the country's chamber of commerce urged Senate to rethink the "rushed and flawed" legislation so it goes back to the House of Representatives for amendments.

The "right to disconnect" is part of proposed changes to strengthen labor rights. It proposes to let workers refuse work-related communications during their rest time without facing repercussions. Meanwhile, employers who punish employees for doing so would be fined.

"Someone who is not being paid 24 hours a day shouldn't be penalized if they're not online and available 24 hours a day," Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said at a press conference on Feb. 7.

The bill also addresses other work-related issues like protections for temporary workers who want permanent employment and standards for gig workers like food delivery riders and truck drivers.

Other countries such as France and Germany already have laws allowing employees to be work-free during their time off.

A similar bill was filed in the House of Representatives in February 2022 in the Philippines titled "Worker's Rest Law."

On Dec. 17, 2023, a new bill was proposed anew by Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez to establish an employee's right to disconnect after work hours. This measure, House Bill No. 9735, aims to amend the Labor Code to include the said right.