Bosses set to face fines for calling workers out of hours

Bosses set to face fines for calling workers out of hours

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Bosses could soon be fined if they keep contacting workers after hours, under new laws headed to the Senate today.

The new laws will allow workers to approach the Fair Work Commission if they feel they have been inappropriately and repeatedly contacted by employers and managers outside work hours.

If the Commission finds in favour of the worker, the employer could face fines or even criminal sanctions if the out-of-hours contacts persist.

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This means workers will be entitled to ignore phone calls and work emails – unless to do so is unreasonable.

“Factors like the reason for contact, the level of contact, compensation, job role and responsibility, and workers’ personal circumstances will be taken into account in deciding what is reasonable contact,” according to the Greens, who negotiated the new laws with Labor, in return for support for broader workplace reform.

Bosses can still contact workers if there is a suitable “availability allowance” – defined in the legislation as “an allowance for being rostered, or otherwise directed by an employer, to remain available to perform work during the period”.

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However, in a joint statement, the CEOs of Australia’s federal, state and territory business and commerce chambers, criticised the legislation.

“Employees already have legal protections against working unreasonable additional hours outside work,” they said.

“Modern technology has provided flexibility to the workforce and many employees no longer need to sit behind a desk from nine to five, which parents have embraced.

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“By agreement with their employers, they can work flexibly in a way that suits them and their families and maintain a work-life balance.”

Nonetheless, the laws are expected to pass the Senate today.

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