Right to Disconnect: Australia Empowers Workers In Closing Loopholes Bill

With the passing of the Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Closing Loopholes No. 2) Bill 2023, Australian workers have a right to disconnect from contact by employers after working hours. This article explains the Bill and its practical implications for Australian employers.
Right to Disconnect: Guidelines for Australian Employers

What is the right to disconnect?

The right to disconnect is the legal right for employees to refuse to monitor, read or respond to contact, or attempted contact, by employers after working hours, provided the refusal is not unreasonable.

Under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), employees can ignore phone calls, emails, text messages and other work-related communication. The law does not prevent employers from sending emails outside of an employee's working hours. However, it will protect workers who ignore unreasonable contact by their employer.

The Closing Loopholes Bill is awaiting royal assent. The expected commencement date for employees' right to disconnect is 26 August 2024 (26 August 2025 for small businesses).

Reasonable contact

In order to determine what contact is considered reasonable, the new legislation amendment takes into consideration:

  • the reason for contacting an employee after work hours
  • the mode of contact and degree of disruption this causes
  • if the employee is compensated to perform work outside of normal hours
  • the nature of the employee's role and level of responsibility
  • the employee's personal circumstances, including family or caring responsibilities.


Small business employers will be exempt from provisions for 12 months after the commencement of the new laws.

Exemptions will apply to the operations of the Australian Federal Police, the Australian Defence Force and other operations pertaining to national security. 

An employee's refusal to monitor, read or respond to contact by their employer will also be considered unreasonable if the contact is required under Commonwealth, State or Territory law. 

The legal right to disconnect: The Fair Work Act will stop unreasonable contact after hours and impose criminal penalties on employers

How will the new laws be enforced?


The Fair Work Commission (FWC) plays a central role in enforcing Australia's new laws regarding the right to disconnect. In instances where there's a disagreement between an employer and an employee over monitoring, reading, or responding to communications outside of ordinary hours of work, the FWC is the authority that intervenes. It has the power to issue stop orders.

Stop orders

A stop order is designed to prevent employers from taking any adverse action against employees who exercise their right to disconnect. If an employer attempts to penalise, dismiss, or otherwise disadvantage an employee for not engaging in work-related communications after hours, the FWC can step in to protect the employee's rights.


The process should begin with attempts to resolve the issue at the workplace level through direct discussions. If these discussions fail, either party can escalate the matter to the Fair Work Commission. The FWC can appoint orders that not only stop employers from taking punitive actions but also aim to mediate a fair resolution that respects the employee's right to disconnect while ensuring business needs are considered.

Information for employers

The introduction of the right to disconnect in Australia necessitates significant adjustments from employers to the Bill. Here are important points for employers to consider:

  • Assessment: Employers should use this period to prepare and adapt their workplace policies and practices accordingly.
  • Training and awareness: Employers should make managers and employees aware of the new measures. For managers, education should focus on respecting boundaries and the legal implications of the new right. Employees should be educated on their rights and the measures the organisation is taking to support those rights.
  • Policy development: Develop clear policies around the use of work technology outside agreed working hours. The policies should provide guidelines on acceptable practices and help foster a culture that respects personal time.
  • Feedback mechanisms: Implement an anonymous reporting tool to identify and address potential issues early on.
  • Scheduling communications: Encourage employees to schedule emails and tasks during agreed working hours to minimise after-hours disruptions.


The introduction of the right to disconnect under the Closing Loopholes Bill is a significant step towards modernising work culture and acknowledging the changing dynamics of work in the digital age. The new legislation is designed to improve the work-life balance of Australian employees and minimise disruptions caused by after-hours work communications.

Elker offers a secure and confidential way for employees to report violations of their right to disconnect without fear of retaliation. By empowering employees to speak up about concerns, Elker helps organisations ensure that after-hours communication policies are respected and adhered to, safeguarding the organisation against disputes.

Book a demonstration of Elker today.

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