About five years after France adopted a law on the right to disconnect, a first Canadian province has legislated on it. Since June 2nd, Ontario businesses with 25 or more employees are required to have a written disconnection policy – a first in North America.
Effectively, the Ontario law defines disconnection as follows: “Not transmitting communications (emails, calls, messages) outside of work hours, so that they are disconnected from work.”
Although this is a step forward, economics columnist Marjorie April has a caveat. Interviewed on the show C’est jamais pareil, she points out that this law only covers 60% of the province’s workforce. Plus, it does not prevent companies from including exemptions in their policy.
Where does that leave Quebec?
The 2021 report on employment in Quebec from the Institut du Québec reads: “Statistics Canada reveals that as of January 2022, nearly one-quarter of Canadians (24%) were now working exclusively from home.” Although hyper-connectivity does not exclusively affect remote workers – the workforce with mobile work tools (company phone, laptop, etc.) too – they are the most directly affected by the issue of disconnection. In that respect, a study by the Canadian firm LifeWorks, conducted with 3,000 respondents in March 2022, shows that “more than a quarter (28%) […] say they have trouble disconnecting after work hours. A large number of them (40%) feel mentally or physically exhausted at the end of the day.”
Interviewed for the article Le droit à la déconnexion au Québec?, Me Marianne Plamondon, lawyer, partner at Langlois Lawyers in Montreal, specializing in labour and employment law, indicates that Quebec should soon follow Ontario’s example: “Employers like to have consistent policies when they have sites in different provinces.” She goes on to say that, “There will be disconnection policies that apply in Quebec, whereas this is not required by law here.”
In recent months, Quebec has experienced an election which resulted in the Coalition Avenir Québec being re-elected. The new legislature of the National Assembly will hold its first parliamentary session on November 29, 2022. Will a bill be introduced this fall? Mental health advocates will no doubt want to move the file forward…