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The ‘Right to Disconnect’ Bill is a welcome initiative in response to the increased rates of burnout we’re seeing, but is it enough?  

Burnout is a universal problem being felt across all industries and company sizes. In a world where there are increasingly blurred lines between home and work, the new ‘Right to Disconnect’ legislation is set to protect employees who chose to be ‘offline’ outside of their standard work hours. Workforce expert, Sara Villella, says it’s a necessary step, but is it enough?  

The market is already foreseeing potential challenges with the new legislation. Since the onus of enforcing the right to disconnect is ultimately being put onto the employee, rather than obliging employers not to contact staff members at unreasonable hours, the legislation could be inadvertently creating more psychosocial hazards in the workplace.  

While the legislation would allow employees to disconnect after-hours, the subliminal pressure to remain connected and available to demonstrate their dedication to the job can persist. If they choose to disconnect, but their peers choose to remain connected out of hours, will they miss out on that promotion or pay rise?  Will their business leaders with more traditional mindsets view them as not pulling their weight?  All of this, and more, will run through the minds of many employees when reflecting on this new Bill. 

Ways businesses can mitigate potential psychosocial hazards around extended working hours are:  

  1. Maintain policies around use of technology outside of their standard hours;. 
  1. Encourage managers and team leaders to respect employees’ boundaries; 
  1. Train your employees on their rights and what the employer is doing about it; 
  1. Monitor employees leave balances and the uptake of unplanned leave from across the workforce;  
  1. Maintain up to date risk assessments on psychosocial hazards of employees working longer hours. Where this lacks, invest in understanding the drivers of your workplace culture (and how this can be elevated), building trust and strengthening communication across your teams;. and 
  1. Continue to ensure employee wellbeing is high on your organisation’s agenda, by providing relevant training that highlights the mental benefits of disconnecting from work and ensuring employee assistance programs (EAP) are available to your people. 

Positively managing the psychosocial risks within your business is both a legal requirement, but also benefits businesses commercially. A healthy workplace leads to increased productivity, reduced absenteeism and an engaged workforce.  

If you need assistance implementing psychosocial risk management strategies, our Workforce Advisory experts can assist you.  

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