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Right to disconnect law to be introduced | Jo Faragher

Australia will introduce new laws giving workers the ‘right to disconnect’ outside of work hours, with potential fines for employers that breach the rule.

The new right is part of a raft of changes to industrial relations laws proposed by the federal government aimed at protecting workers’ rights and restoring work-life balance.

This right already exists in a small number of countries including France, where it was introduced in 2017. Spain and Portugal also have the right.

Australian employment minister Tony Burke said that a majority of senators across the country have already declared their support for the legislation.

Under the new rules, employees would be prevented from working unpaid overtime, and protected against “unreasonable contact” outside working hours. The bill is expected to be introduced in parliament later this week.

Prime minister Anthony Albanese said: “What we are simply saying is that someone who isn’t being paid 24 hours a day shouldn’t be penalised if they’re not online and available 24 hours a day.”

The bill will also include other worker provisions such as a clearer pathway from temporary to permanent work, and minimum standards for temporary workers and truck drivers.

But Andrew McKellar, chief executive of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the proposed legislation was a “dumb idea”, claiming it would be impractical and unworkable.

The Green party, which was first to propose the rule last year,…

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