Our new right to disconnect from the workplace

Research Tuesdays

Employment and contract law expert Dr Gabrielle Golding will present her research the new right to disconnect for Australian employees at this month’s Research Tuesdays lecture.

Dr Golding, who is a Senior Lecturer in the Adelaide Law School, began her research on the potential for this new workplace right during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Work had become almost inescapable, in that the work/private life divide had become increasingly blurred, while the pull of work from digital devices rapidly increased,” said Dr Golding, who will deliver the lecture on Tuesday, 9 July.

“France and a number of other European jurisdictions had enjoyed a right to disconnect for a few years at that point, and I saw the opportunity for Australia to recognise the same right.”

Her research and advocacy contributed to Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) amendments requiring all Australian modern awards to allow employees the right to refuse contact from their employer or related third parties outside their working hours, so long as that refusal is reasonable.

These amendments are set to commence operation from 26 August 2024 for most employees (or 26 August 2025 for those working in small businesses).

“The sheer amount of unpaid overtime performed by Australian employees demonstrates we are in dire need of a right to disconnect." Dr Gabrielle Golding, Senior Lecturer in Law, The University of Adelaide.

“A 2023 Centre for Future Work Report by the Australia Institute found employees had worked 5.4 hours unpaid on average each week that same year, resulting in a net $131 billion AUD loss in unpaid wages," said Dr Golding.

Dr Golding said the recognition of this new right will help employees to better maintain work/life boundaries and lessen their likelihood of work-related stress and burnout, while also reducing the reach of their employer’s duty of care and improving their productivity.

Dr Gabrielle Golding is a Senior Lecturer in Law at the University of Adelaide. She frequently comments on employment matters in media, having been interviewed by the BBC, ABC, SBS, Guardian, and Australian Financial Review, and written for The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Australian, and The Monthly. Her latest research is presented in her 2023 monograph, Shaping Contracts for Work (Oxford University Press).

Tuesday, 9 July. 5:30-6:30 pm.                                                                                                                         

The Braggs Building, North Terrace campus, The University of Adelaide                                  

Click here to reserve an in-person ticket / Click here to register for the online webinar.

Tagged in featured story, Research Tuesday, employee, employer