Reaction in Sudbury to proposed disconnect legislation
Announced earlier this week, the Ford government is pushing the first legislation in Canada that would give employees the right to disconnect outside of work hours.
The new law would require employers with 25 or more staff to develop disconnecting-from-work policies, which could include expectations about response time for e-mails outside of work hours.
Here in Sudbury, Workplace Safety North, one of four sector-based health and safety associations in Ontario, is preparing to support employers with the transition.
“We do know that 43 per cent of persons have claimed that they spent time doing emails after those work hours,” said Mike Parent, Workplace Safety North Vice President.
"One in three actually respond to emails or do work outside of those regular work hours. So I think helping employers understand that this is a problem is the first step."
Other steps include defining clear boundaries of work and non-work time and ensuring employers are following the Employment Standards Act, Parent said.
"And again, strongly encouraging them on the process to get there," he said. "If you have a unionized workplace, engaging with the union leadership to define the policy. If you don’t, then connecting with joint health and safety committees."
Parent said while the legislation is a step in the right direction toward work-life balance, he would ultimately like to see the approach changed to simply life balance.
“There's one document by the World Health Organization that suggests that people that work too many hours are at high risk of stroke or heart attack," he said.
"There are a number of studies that support that people that work too many hours suffer from anxiety and depression and I’m hoping that this policy and the engagement of the employees will reduce the physiological and mental health effects."
Parent said a lot of pressure will be put on employers, but at the same time, he said employees also need to remember to respect co-worker boundaries.
If passed, the legislation would make Ontario the first jurisdiction in Canada to make it easier for people to relax and spend quality time with their loved ones.