Australians have been warned that the new “right to disconnect” law could leave them with fewer rights and end benefits such as leaving work early to pick up the children or see a GP.
Bosses could soon be fined for contacting their employees outside of normal working hours, a move that has sparked outrage among some business advocates.
The law, expected to pass the Senate this week, is designed to make life easier for employees but could put them on a collision course with bosses.
Innes Willox of the Australian Industry Group said flexibility is needed in the workplace and the new law will break the consensus that currently exists.
“Flexibility cuts both ways and if employees want to play hardball, they can expect their employer to react accordingly,” he said. The Australian.
A new “right to disconnect” law could lead employers to end informal work arrangements, such as allowing staff to leave early to pick up children or go to the doctor. The photo shows a young woman talking on the phone.
Opposition leader Peter Dutton said the Coalition will make repealing the law a major plank of its campaign in an election due in 15 months.
He said the Liberals and Nationals would “adopt a policy (for the election) that is in the best interests of our country and that provides support for workers but does not make it impossible, particularly for small businesses, to hire staff.”
Dutton also discussed how the “right to disconnect” provision, which is part of a wider series of workplace changes, came from the Greens in the Senate.
“If you think it’s OK to outsource your industrial relations or your economic policy to the Greens… then you will see a continuation of the productivity problem in this country,” he said.
He had the backing of Simon Birmingham, leader of the opposition in the Senate.
“Right now in the Senate there is the madness that the Albanian Government has given in to the Greens for this provision of the so-called right to disconnect,” he told ABC.
‘And yet, having bowed to a Greens amendment, they are desperately trying to amend it because they don’t like what it contains.
“It is a total, rushed disaster that has been carried out without proper consultation, without anyone being able to stand up and explain what this means.”
Birmingham added that the law is “a huge threat to Australian employers and employees (because of) confusion that will only hurt productivity and make employers more reluctant to put people to work.”
Pictured is a work phone call that comes after normal business hours. Similar calls could soon be banned
But Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has rejected the opposition’s claim that the law is bad for workers.
“What Peter Dutton wants is lower wages, more taxes for low and middle income Australians and to continue to roll back any reforms that are made in the interests of workers,” the prime minister said on Sunday.
ACTU secretary Sally McManus also backs the new laws and says they would lead to better health outcomes.
The right to disconnect would “ensure balance and flexibility by allowing negotiation between workers, their unions and employers to accommodate what is reasonable.”
‘This will mean better mental health and a better work-life balance for millions of working families. “A healthy workforce is a productive workforce,” she stated.
Andrew McKellar of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry said there was a lot of uncertainty about the new laws and businesses were “in uncharted waters”.
‘I don’t think that’s clear from the legislation that was passed in such haste last week. “There is no clear guidance for either employees or employers about what this new test will encompass,” he said.
There are already some provisions for the right to disconnect in employment agreements in Australia, including those negotiated by the National Tertiary Education Union.
The union’s general secretary, Dr Damien Cahill, said the changes would be a big victory for workers.
“Our union has led the way on some of the first disconnection rights enshrined in enterprise agreements and we greatly welcome similar rights being extended to all workers,” Dr Cahill told Daily Mail Australia.