HR Advice Online Explainer: The Right to Disconnect

Published 12 May 2024, revised 17 May 2024

AHPA’s partner HR Advice Online provides an outline of the new Right to Disconnect amendment.

The Right to Disconnect has been introduced as an amendment to the Fair Work Act via the legislation of the Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Closing Loopholes No. 2) Act 2024. The amendment is intended to protect employees from any adverse action by the Employer, where the Employee refuses to take unreasonable work calls or answer emails in their unpaid personal time.

Determining what is an “unreasonable refusal” may well be impacted by several factors, including the type of job. An example maybe, an emergency doctor on call, would be required to be contactable at different times of the day, but a retail worker may have clearly designated shifts such as working from 9am to 5pm.

According to the Commission’s direction, refusing contact may be “unreasonable” based on:

  • The reason for out of hours contact.
  • How the contact is made.
  • The level of disruption to the employee.
  • The extent to which the employee is compensated (i.e. by way of an on-call allowance or additional remuneration for working outside normal hours).
  • Any non-monetary compensation the employee may receive on top of their wage.
  • The nature of the employee’s role and responsibilities.
  • The caring responsibilities of the employee.
  • If a dispute arises the employer should first try to come to an agreement with the employee at a workplace level. Where an agreement can’t be made, the matter can be taken to the Fair Work Commission who can enforce ‘stop’ orders, including:
  • To prevent the employee from “unreasonably” refusing out-of-hours contact
  • To stop an employer from contacting a worker out of hours
  • To prevent an employer from taking disciplinary action against the employee, due to the employer’s belief that the refusal is unreasonable.

The Fair Work Commission may reject disputes under certain circumstances, including claims that are deemed “frivolous or vexatious”.

The right to disconnect, and the rules that come with it, will begin on the 26 August 2024 for non-small businesses, however for small businesses that have fewer than 15 employees will have a further 12 months before implementation.

With many years of specialised HR experience, our team are ready to assist you manage all types of human resource management issues. If you require assistance on any such matters, please contact the Team at or 1300 720 004.

Information in HR Advice Online guides and blog posts is meant purely for educational discussion of human resources issues. It contains only general information about human resources matters and due to factors, such as government legislation changes and may not be up-to-date at the time of reading. It is not legal advice and should not be treated as such.