Further to our past posts on this topic, we write to remind our Ontario clients that employers who had 25 or more employees in Ontario on January 1, 2022 must have a written Disconnecting from Work policy by June 2, 2022. Those employers must provide a copy of the written policy to their employees within 30 calendar days of:
- The policy being prepared;
- The policy being changed (if an existing policy is changed); or
- A new employee being hired.
The employer must include in their policy the date it was prepared and the date of any changes made. Other than that, the employer may determine the content of the policy itself. Importantly, the policy does not have to provide a right for the employee to disconnect from work and be free from the obligation to engage in work-related communications. We provided a number of suggestions in our past alert, reproduced below for ease of reference:
- The employer’s expectations, if any, of employees to read or reply to work-related emails or answer work-related phone calls after their shift is over.
- The policy may set out employer expectations for different situations. For example, the policy may contain different expectations depending on:
- the time of day of the communication;
- the subject matter of the communication; and
- who is contacting the employee (for example the client, supervisor, colleague).
- The employer’s requirements for employees turning on out-of-office notifications and/or changing their voicemail messages, when they are not scheduled to work, to communicate that they will not be responding until the next scheduled work day.
We note that new rights created under a written policy may become enforceable under the ESA, so employers should draft their policies with care and/or with the assistance of legal counsel. We have a template policy we can work with you to customize to your organization. You may also consider extending the policy to all Canadian employees both as good Human Resources practise and to ensure that managers in another province cannot say they did not realize that they had to follow the policy in relation to Ontario employees they manage. If you want more information or help drafting your policy on this topic, you can contact us at: