The ESA was recently amended to require employers with 25 or more employees to introduce a written policy on disconnecting from work before June 2, 2022.
The term “disconnecting from work” is defined to mean “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.”
Currently, employers who have 25 or more employees (counted as of January 1, 2022) have until June 2, 2022, to develop a written policy on disconnecting from work. Accordingly, there is no immediate urgency to implement a policy, employers have a 6-month transition period to become compliant.
Going forward, after June 2, 2022, if an employer has 25 or more employees as of January 1 of any year, it must before March 1 of that year, ensure it has a written policy in place for all employees with respect to disconnecting from work, that includes the date the policy was prepared and the day any changes were made to the policy. Employers must provide a copy of the policy to each employee within 30 days of: preparing it, making a change to the policy, or upon a new employee being hired.
- As of today, there are no classes of employees that are exempt from this “disconnecting” requirement. The requirement applies to all employees, regardless of profession or position within the organization. However, that may change in the future through regulations prescribing what may be required to be included in such a policy. To date no such regulations have been enacted.
- Without further legislative guidance, it is up to employers to develop a policy setting out the expectations for its workplace about disconnecting from work in order to balance the operational needs of the business and the mental health of their employees, recruitment and retention. Employers should carefully consider what they want their policy about disconnecting from work to include, keeping in mind that there is no one-size-fits-all approach. For example, a business that shuts down every night will have different concerns than a 24/7 support business with clients around the globe. Employers should consider how their organization might ideally balance operational concerns with the concept of “disconnecting” and possibly seek feedback from its employees when developing a policy.