The right to disconnect

Did you know that we all now have the right to ‘switch off’?

The new ACU Staff Enterprise Agreement 2022-2025 provides for a new Right to Disconnect (5.1.4) from work.

What is the ‘right to disconnect’?

The right to disconnect refers to a staff member’s need to ‘switch off’ both physically and mentally, outside of their ordinary working hours. The intention is to promote staff wellbeing and encourage work-life balance.

What does this mean?

ACU staff members are not expected to respond to phone or electronic communications outside of ordinary working hours, except in a limited number of circumstances.

Supervisors must not expect to receive responses outside of someone’s regular working hours and should ensure that it is known that if correspondence is received, a response is not required before the staff member(s) usual return to work.

What are the exceptions?

There are of course exceptional circumstances when communication may be required outside of your ordinary working hours. These may include:

  • the case of a genuine emergency, such as a serious immediate risk to students, other staff or major university property
  • notification of an unplanned absence
  • during authorised overtime
  • call back to work
  • notification of rostering changes
  • paid on-call arrangements.
What about contact from students?

Schools will inform students about the university’s approach to the right to disconnect so that students can also understand when they can expect a response from staff.

Where there is a serious immediate risk to student wellbeing, a response from university staff is required.

Supporting the right to disconnect

Some practical steps to support the right to disconnect include:

  • communicating with your team about your working days and availability
  • using a message in your email signature to clarify you don’t expect a response outside of hours
  • delaying delivery of your emails to within usual hours if you are working outside of usual business hours
  • Schools communicating with students about staff responsiveness and availability
  • starting a conversation about what works for your team and work area
  • raising concerns with your supervisor in the first instance.

For more information, please contact People & Capability via Service Central.

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