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Disconnecting from work policy 

What does disconnecting from work mean?

Disconnecting from work is really simple; it’s the ability to establish and maintain boundaries between work time and personal time. With the prevalence of e-mails and hybrid work setups, it’s become increasingly easy to be “always on.” Employees can just “take a quick look” at e-mails after dinner or over the weekend and “just send one thing off” at any time of day. Some employers are coming to expect this more and more. However, this “always on” culture has been linked to greater rates of anxiety, depression, and burnout. It can also affect the productivity and engagement of these employees. Ultimately, the ability to disconnect from work is becoming increasingly important, and in some jurisdictions like Ontario, for employers with 25 or more employees, it’s now a requirement to have a disconnecting from work policy.

What is a disconnecting from work policy?

A disconnecting from work policy sets out the company’s expectations regarding the boundaries between “work time” and “non-work time.” Often these policies specify that an employee is entitled, encouraged, or expected to disconnect from work outside their regular working hours without any penalty. These policies outline what counts as “work time” and what an employee should and shouldn’t do outside that time. 

What should be included in a disconnecting from work policy? 

In our sample Disconnecting from Work Policy, you will find sections on:  

  • Intent 
  • Definitions 
  • Guidelines 
  • Disconnecting from Work 
  • Workload and Productivity 
  • Communication 
  • Breaks and Time Off 
  • Overtime 
  • Review 
  • Effective Date 
  • Acknowledgement and Agreement  

We recommend that you use the intent and definitions section provide some clarity about your purpose in creating the policy and to define what you’re talking about. You can use the sections on disconnecting from work, workload, communications, breaks, and overtime to set out your expectations for your employees on how they should conduct themselves during non-working hours, and when they should check in with their manager if they have concerns about their workload. You can use the review, effective date, and acknowledgement to ensure your policy is current and drafted to address the needs of your organization. Certain jurisdictions may have legislation regarding this topic, so check the applicable legislation and requirements in your jurisdiction before finalizing your policy. 

What are the benefits of a disconnecting from work policy? 

There are numerous benefits associated with giving individuals an opportunity to step away from work and engage in other activities. As mentioned above, it can reduce anxiety, depression, and burnout. Confirming to employees that they not only can but should set reasonable boundaries between work and other facets of their lives enables them to engage in other activities. This allows them to come back to work after a break feeling refreshed. This in turn can lead to increased productivity and engagement. Fostering a culture that includes the opportunity to disconnect keeps employee wellbeing as a central focus.

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