Australia last week passed a Right To Disconnect law that forbids employers contacting workers after hours, with penalties including jail time for bosses who do the wrong thing.
The criminal sanction will soon be overturned – it was the result of parliamentary shenanigans rather than the government's intent – and the whole law could go too if opposition parties and business groups have their way.
European companies have already introduced Right To Disconnect laws in response to digital devices blurring the boundaries between working hours and personal time. The laptops or phones employers provide have obvious after-hours uses, but also mean workers can find themselves browsing emailed or texted messages from their boss at all hours – sometimes with an expectation of a response. That expectation, labor rights orgs argue, extends the working day without increasing pay.
Right To Disconnect laws might better be termed "Right to not read or respond to messages from work" laws because that's what they seek to guarantee.