Greens leader Adam Bandt’s call for the right of workers to “ignore your boss when you clock off” under new legislation has sparked furious debate online with critics insisting it is the wrong attitude to take Australia forward.
The reforms, set to become law under the Albanese Government’s “closing loopholes” bill under a deal with the crossbench, include a Greens amendment creating a right to disconnect from work for employees.
But the changes have sparked a furious debate online with some bosses slamming the changes and union leaders warning that younger workers are “not slaves”.
The new laws are designed to prevent employees being punished for refusing to take unreasonable work calls or answer emails in their unpaid personal time.
“If you’ve been asked to answer an email, take a call, or edit a doc on your day off, then this one’s for you,’’ Greens leader Adam Bandt said on X.
“The Greens have just won you the Right to Disconnect.
“Now, you’ll have the right to ignore your boss when you clock off.”
But the claim has sparked a backlash online with broadcaster turned political candidate Basil Zempilas. Perth’s re-elected lord mayor, who is planning to run as a state Liberal MP, warning the laws go too far.
“Is this the way to drive our country forward?,’’ Mr Zempilas said.
“Is this the spirit with which we built our great nation? Is this the attitude which has meant good people can work hard and get ahead?
“I think not.”
Workers have hit back over those claims on social media urging the highly paid ex-television presenter to expect some calls incoming.
“Yes. It’s well known that the early settlers answered every single email and phone call they ever received. Try telling that to young people these days,’’ former SA Deputy Premier Pat Conlon quipped on X.
South Australian Nick Schadegg asked for the TV presenter’s mobile for some late night chats.
“Hey basil can I have your phone number real quick just in case I feel like calling you at 2am,’’ he wrote.
“I get off a night shift at 6:30am and my manager still has the nerve to call me at 9:00am the same day asking me to come back in for the morning shift. Do you think that’s fair?,’’ another user said.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has backed the changes, which have already been rolled out in several European nations overseas.
“What we’re simply saying is someone who’s not being paid 24 hours a day shouldn’t be penalised if they’re not online and available 24 hours a day,” he said.
Unions have raised concerns for years that smartphones are forcing workers to stay ‘switched on’ to work after hours with growing expectation employees are available to reply to emails and texts, and field phone calls.
“Actually it’s exactly what drove our country forward,’’ the ACTU’s Ben Davison said in response to Basil Zempilas’ post.
“It’s exactly the spirit that made our country great & allowed working people to work hard & get ahead, as opposed to working hard & getting sick 8 hours work, 8 hours rest.
“Working people are not slaves.”
The laws have been backed by independent Senator Lidia Thorpe who also reached a deal with Labor in return for changes to casual provisions making it a workplace right to request to convert to permanent work.
“This is to protect casuals from being punished by their employer for requesting conversion to full or part-time employment,” she said.
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