Waterloo's new disconnecting from work guideline

Thursday, June 2, 2022

A message from James W.E. Rush, Vice President Academic & Provost

In 2021 the Ontario government passed Bill 27, which changed the Employment Standards Act, 2000 and requires employers including the University to prepare and implement a written “policy” for all employees on disconnecting from work.

In compliance with the new law, we have developed a guideline that outlines our obligations in supporting you to balance your work and personal lives, whether working traditional hours in the workplace, remotely, or under a work from home arrangement. You can read the new guideline online on the Provost’s website.

It’s important to know that while the changes to the Employment Standards Act, 2000 did not create new rights for employees regarding hours of work, rest periods, vacation, etc., beyond those already in the Act, the University is committed to creating a healthy workplace and work/life balance as important determinants of quality of life.

As the guideline makes clear, all employees are entitled to the ability to disconnect from work. This ability to disconnect means that you are not typically expected or obliged to engage in any work-related communication, such as replying to emails, outside your normal work hours.

We recognize that the times of day and the days of the week that you will be able to disconnect are likely to vary significantly depending on the nature of the work you do, and terms of your employment contract. We also know that many of you work flexibly when it is convenient for you to work. The ability to disconnect doesn’t mean you can’t send emails when it’s convenient for you to do so, but you shouldn’t expect the recipient to respond to you if it is outside their normal working hours.

We’re asking supervisors to make sure that they are clear with you about the hours you are expected to work, as provided in your employment contract, University Policies, or otherwise.

This guideline also describes what employees can do to report concerns about their ability to disconnect from work. Employees will not be subject to reprisal for reporting, in good faith, any concerns about their ability to disconnect from work.

If you have any questions about this new guideline, you can email the team at hr.partner@uwaterloo.ca.