VOA Learning English

Australia to Introduce ‘Right to Disconnect’ Law for Workers

VOA Learning English • voa
Feb. 11, 2024 2 minSource

Australia’s parliament seems likely to pass a new “right to disconnect” bill that the federal government has proposed.

The law would prevent employers from asking their workers to keep their phones and computers turned on outside of work hours. Employers who ask employees to do so could be fined .

The aim is to protect workers’ rights and improve work-life balance in the country.

Similar laws are already in place in France, Spain and other European nations.

Australia’s employment minister, Tony Burke, said most lawmakers have expressed support for the bill.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese discussed the proposed law on Wednesday.

“What we are simply saying is that someone who isn't being paid 24 hours a day shouldn't be penalized if they’re not online and available 24 hours a day,” he said.

The bill also includes rules that will give temporary workers guidelines about how to move into permanent work.

Adam Bandt is the leader of the left-wing Greens. He said his party supports the law. So do leaders of the Labor party and other smaller parliamentary groups.

Some politicians, however, warned that a new labor law would hurt Australia’s ability to be competitive with other nations. The critics also say making a new labor law might make it difficult for employees who want to work flexible hours.

Bandt said Australians work an average of six unpaid weeks each year. He said that totals about $60 billion of unpaid wages .

“That time is yours,” he said, “not your boss’s.”

I’m Dan Friedell.

Dan Friedell adapted this story for Learning English based on a report by Reuters.

Words in This Story

fine –n. a financial penalty

work-life balance –n. the idea that people should be able to spend their free time without having to think about work

flexible –adj. something that is not tightly controlled

wage –n. the money a person is paid for their work

We want to hear from you. Do you already turn your phone and computer off when you leave work for the day?

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