Disconnecting from Work Legislation Proving Confusing

man using smartphone

TORONTO – BUSINESS – It is new Ontario legislation that appears to be confusing to business owners.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business says that “One in three small businesses in Ontario (33%) with 25 or more employees is not aware of a new policy they must have had in place by June 2 to be compliant with the province’s new Disconnecting from Work legislation”.

That is the result of a recent survey by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). Over three-quarters of businesses (77%) rated the Ontario government’s efforts to educate them about the policy as “poor” or “very poor”.

The term “disconnecting from work” is defined in the Employment Standards Act as “not engaging in work-related communications, including emails, telephone calls, video calls or the sending or reviewing of other messages, so as to be free from the performance of work.”

“Government communication and clarity is particularly important for this policy, since the legislation doesn’t specify what has to be in it,” said Julie Kwiecinski, CFIB director of provincial affairs for Ontario. “The policy allows lots of flexibility, but it’s harder to comply and avoid paying a possible administrative penalty when the rules aren’t crystal clear.”

CFIB’s survey also found that:

  • Only 16% of businesses knew and already had a policy in place before June 2
  • 48% listed CFIB as their primary source of information for understanding the policy, while 18% didn’t have a primary source
  • 54% of those who had a primary source of information felt better equipped to develop the policy

To help affected small businesses comply with the new requirement for a Disconnecting from Work policy, CFIB developed an information page and downloadable template, which can be accessed at cfib.ca/disconnect.

“Most small businesses don’t have a full HR or legal department on staff, so it can be challenging to stay on top of new rules and regulations. CFIB will continue to ensure business owners have the tools and information they need to operate their business,” said Ryan Mallough, CFIB vice-president of legislative affairs.

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