‘Switch off’ rights are set to be locked into law

Workers are set to gain new rights to switch off outside of paid hours as part of a slate of industrial relations reforms set to pass parliament.

Feb 08, 2024, updated Feb 08, 2024
Photo: NordWood Themes/Unsplash

Photo: NordWood Themes/Unsplash

The right to disconnect has won the support of the government, Greens and key crossbenchers alongside new measures giving greater protections to gig economy workers and more rights to casuals seeking permanent employment.

Unreasonable contact from employers outside of paid hours will be curbed under the laws, with workers able to tap the Fair Work Commission if they’re hassled, which could ultimately result in a fine.

But there are carve-outs for bosses calling employees about changes to their rostered shifts and protections against frivolous and vexatious claims.

Unions will also be able to enter workplaces without notice to investigate underpayments if the legislation passes.

Labor’s suite of industrial relations reforms are set to pass the Senate on Thursday before being rubber stamped in the government-controlled lower house.

The new laws heralded the end of people forced to stay in casual employment by providing a pathway to permanent work and introduced world-leading minimum standards for gig workers, Employment Minister Tony Burke said.

“We’re poised to close more of the workplace loopholes that have been undermining wages and worker safety,” he said.

Independent senators David Pocock and Lidia Thorpe are supporting the tranche of reforms alongside the Greens after securing a number of amendments, giving the government the numbers it needs to pass the Senate.

But the opposition has slammed the changes, saying they’ll stifle flexibility and put undue burdens and costs onto small businesses.

InDaily in your inbox. The best local news every workday at lunch time.
By signing up, you agree to our User Agreement andPrivacy Policy & Cookie Statement. This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

“None of the measures are designed to improve productivity, jobs, growth and investment which are the ingredients of a successful economy,” shadow attorney-general Michaelia Cash said.

The Australian public waits to see the full details about how the right to disconnect would operate, she added.

“Workers already have legal protections against unreasonable working hours,” Cash said.

Business groups have also hit out at the changes to industrial relations laws, saying workers already had protections in place against unreasonable contact from employers.

“We don’t want to see the Fair Work Commission called in to deal with the day-to-day activity of running a business and issues should be resolved in the workplace,” Business Council chief executive Bran Black said.

“We remain opposed to the bill as a whole because it adds complexity, costs and red tape at the worst possible time, making it harder to do business,” he added.


Local News Matters
Copyright © 2024 InDaily.
All rights reserved.