Ontario’s “Disconnecting from Work” Policy Requirement

On December 2, 2021, Ontario passed the Working for Workers Act, 2021 which amended the Employment Standards Act (“ESA”) to require employers with 25 or more employees to develop a written policy on disconnecting from work. Below is a summary for producers of the key aspects of the new ESA obligation.

Disconnecting from Work Policy Obligation

Employers that employ 25 or more employees in Ontario on January 1, 2022 will be required to develop a written disconnecting from work policy by June 2, 2022. In subsequent years, employers that employ 25 or more employees on January 1 of that year must have a written disconnecting from work policy by March 1 of the applicable year.

The 25-employee count includes part-time or casual employees, but does not include independent contractors or anyone else that does not meet the definition of “employee” under the ESA. Additionally, the obligation to develop a policy does not create new ESA hours of work obligations. Rather, existing hours of work obligations under the ESA and applicable contracts continue to apply.

Contents of the Policy

The policy must cover “disconnecting from work”, which is defined under the ESA as not engaging in work-related communications, including emails, telephone calls, video calls or sending or reviewing other messages, to be free from the performance of work. The policy must also specify the date it was prepared and the date of any changes. Apart from the above items, the ESA does not prescribe what an employer must include in its policy. The policy may contain different expectations for different employee classifications or circumstances.

An employer must provide a copy of the written policy to its employees within 30 calendar days of the policy being prepared or revised.

Template Policy for CMPA Members

To assist CMPA members in developing their own policy, the CMPA has developed a template disconnecting from work policy available here. As this is a template document, it should be adapted to the particular circumstances of your workplace. Members are encouraged to obtain independent legal advice with respect to their particular policy, as appropriate.

If you have any questions about the legislation or the template policy, please reach out to CMPA National staff at the coordinates below:

Sean Porter
Lead Negotiator and Senior Director, National Industrial Relations and Counsel
sean.porter@cmpa.ca
647-797-1856 / 1-800-267-8208 x 237

Samia Hussein
Director, National Industrial Relations and Associate Counsel
samia.hussein@cmpa.ca
416-304-0281 / 1-800-267-8208 x 227