A discussion on Ontario’s recently passed right-to-disconnect legislation

Leveraging Right-to-Disconnect Policies

The introduction of Ontario’s new right-to-disconnect legislation allows manufacturers to strengthen engagement, motivation, and productivity throughout their workplace. Let’s discuss how to create and implement effective disconnection policies.

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Recently, EMC held a leadership event to strengthen manufacturers’ awareness of Ontario’s newly introduced right-to-disconnect laws. The recommendations presented in the following article are based on a discussion held during that event. EMC always encourages manufacturers to consult with the appropriate legislative bodies to confirm employment requirements before making administrative decisions.

Ontario’s recently passed right-to-disconnect legislation is causing manufacturers across all industries to significantly re-evaluate their employees’ availability outside of work hours. Employers are on a tight deadline to comply with these new laws. By provincial regulation, all businesses that employ over 25 full-time workers must confirm their right-to-disconnect policies by June 2, 2022, or face serious legal repercussions. While this legislation may seem counter-intuitive to sustained productivity, businesses eager to strengthen employee collaboration and engagement can utilize right-to-disconnect laws to promote trust, autonomy, and motivation throughout their workforces. By creating effective right-to-disconnect policies tailored to the unique needs of their facilities, manufacturing leaders can foster a workplace culture focused on mutual respect and responsibility, ensuring that all employees feel fairly treated, recognized, and eager to complete their duties.

The first right-to-disconnect obstacle to overcome for many businesses is the required usage of technology for work. Modern manufacturing tasks often require employees to access and respond to work-related digital information at a moment’s notice through computers or mobile devices. As workers can receive this information at any time — including outside of work hours — it can be challenging to establish barriers between their personal and professional activities, especially when accessing work-related material on their own technology. Installing work applications or information on an employee’s personal device often encourages extensive task completion, leading to exhaustion and, in worst cases, lessened worker retention. A simple solution to this problem is to provide employees with company-owned technology that can be used exclusively for work activities— having a device dedicated to a single objective allows workers to define rigid “start” and “stop” times for their efforts, preventing extraneous activity and disillusionment.

One of the most important concepts to keep in mind when considering new right-to-disconnect legislation is that the guidelines defined by Ontario’s Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development are a foundation for building worker rights. As businesses continue developing and implementing their unique right-to-disconnect practices, they must adhere to the following principles to prevent violating provincial standards. The first of these principles is clarity. Regardless of what right-to-disconnect policies they choose to establish, employers are required by law to present these rules to their workers before their implementation and to keep them constantly accessible for future reference. The second principle, acknowledgment, is similarly vital — workers must confirm their recognition of these practices to eliminate the possibility of ambiguity or misconception. These regulations are necessary for maintaining a workforce’s trust and loyalty, and keep the rights of both employees and employers secure.

Though the rapid introduction, definition, and implementation of Ontario’s right-to-disconnect laws may seem overwhelming for employers who have yet to consider such practices, this legislation is essential for maintaining employee motivation and provides an excellent opportunity for business leaders to heighten worker retention. Manufacturers that take advantage of the ability to create new policies specialized for their own workforce’s needs will discover a range of benefits to employee morale and will be able to cultivate a working environment conducive to engagement, timeliness, and productivity.

To discuss participating in a future session in Eastern Ontario, on right-to-disconnect policies, in your workplace, don't hesitate to contact Steve Holmgren, EMC’s Manufacturing Consortium Manager for Eastern Ontario. Attend EMC events frequently for knowledge and expertise specialized for the Canadian manufacturing sector.

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