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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Olsen

The right to disconnect, what it means for your business, and some ideas on managing after-hour calls.

Updated: Feb 20



As we heard in February 2024 it was announced that a right-to-disconnect law is expected to come into play in September-October 2024 with the intent of restoring work-life balance.

 

What is it? 

The Fair Work Amendment (right to disconnect) bill 2023 will allow workers to refuse to take unreasonable calls or answer emails for a time when they are unpaid, without facing any repercussions.

 

The penalty?


A fine. The breach of this order could result in fines of up to $18,000 without criminal penalties.

 

Your brand and ability to recruit. In this period of low unemployment, another indirect penalty will be whatever impact it may have on the organisation's Brand and credibility.  This may make it more difficult to hire workers.  Industries such as NDIS, not-for-profit, and community housing may be more impacted than other industries as many of them are already experiencing a high level of churn. 

 

Arguments against it.

Some politicians, employer groups, and corporate leaders are warning that the right to disconnect is taking it too far and would impact the move towards more flexible working and competitiveness. 

 

Others argue that the government is imposing itself and that this could be addressed with standard enterprise agreements arranged between employees and employers. Of course, the coalition has vowed to repeal this if elected at the next election which we can expect within the next 15 months. Peter Dutton said the law was bad for workers and the economy and accused labour of outsourcing its industrial relations policy to the Greens.

 

How to best manage this law.

Politics aside and presuming this goes forward, businesses will be faced with at least 12 months of this law in place, until the next election and if the coalition wins. 

 

Some ideas… the not so easy ones.

 

 Get the work done within contracted hours: you can take measures to ensure calls are made within work hours,

 Have employment contracts include expanded hours: ensure you place a provision in employment agreements for calls outside normal work hours, or

Manage after-hour contact: a simple option for employees is the use of readily available modern telephony technology.  I refer to cloud telephony more technically known as unified communications as a service (UCaaS). 


...and the very easy one; modern cloud telephony.


Manage after-hour calls with modern cloud telephony services.

Services like RingCentral or 8 by 8, and others have a simple automated or manual call redirection capability and provide a broad range of options:

 

-  Forward at a time of your choice.  For example, at 5:00 you set your virtual extension to direct all calls to voicemail, to a specific extension, or group

-  Set your regular forwarding schedule for the next week, month, year 

-  Play a specific announcement

-  Call forwarding rules can be set by Admin or through permissions allowing employees to set their own rules

 

A better customer and employee experience This may not necessarily assist your boss who wants to talk to you but would provide a better experience for any customers or other contacts trying to reach you or your business. 

 

Know how many times you have been called after hours Get complete visibility and metrics on the number of calls at attempts to reach you and these analytics help you work with your boss and organisation she come up with ways to better manage the

 

Here is a view of some of the options available on your handset or desktop in handling your call forwarding options within the RingCentral service directly from your phone. These can also be managed and set by administration.

 



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