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A New Quebec Bill Would Make It Illegal For Your Boss To Bug You Outside Of Work Hours

The bill was proposed by Québec solidaire after similar "right to disconnect" legislation passed in Ontario.

Associate Editor
A New Quebec Bill Would Make It Illegal For Your Boss To Bug You Outside Of Work Hours

Thanks to the pandemic, working from home is becoming increasingly common — but some argue remote work makes it even harder to unplug. Following in the footsteps of Ontario's recently passed Working for Workers Act, 2021, Québec solidaire has tabled a bill proposing that Quebecers be entitled to "the right to disconnect" outside of work hours.

Bill 799, presented by Hochelaga-Maisonneuve MNA Alexandre Leduc, aims to "ensure that employees' rest time is respected." How? By requiring that employers set time periods when employees are allowed to disconnect from job-related communications — whether emails, Zoom calls or Slack messages.

The bill also proposes that employers create a "protocol for the use of communication tools outside working hours."

If the bill were to pass, workplaces with 100 or more employees would need to develop their "off-duty disconnection policy" by way of a committee made up of 50 percent employees or employee representatives.

Employers with less than 100 employees would develop the policy themselves but would need to get it approved by La Commission des normes, de l'équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail, which you may know as the CNESST.

The penalties for violating the terms of the law, according to the bill, would be fines between $2,000 and $50,000 for first offences, depending on the size of the company. The amount of the fines would double for second offences.

Similarly, Ontario's Working for Workers Act, 2021, which comes into effect in June 2022, requires businesses with 25 employees or more to have a "written policy with respect to disconnecting from work," freeing workers from the obligation of responding to work messages and the overall "performance of work" once they've clocked out.

While the law may sound appealing on paper, Dave McKechnie, a Toronto lawyer with expertise in labour relations, told Narcity it won't actually "make the day to day life of a lot of Ontario workers better" because it will be tough to enforce.

This is Québec solidaire's second time proposing a bill on the right to disconnect. The first was introduced in June 2020.

In a statement released at the time, Leduc said "the pandemic has blurred the boundaries between personal life and work, which were already challenged by the growing presence of technology in our lives [...] But the law is not equipped to deal with this reality. The government cannot say on one side of its mouth that it wants to promote technology and work, and on the other, not regulate the right to disconnect."

Bill 799 would still need to pass through multiple stages of the legislative process and win a vote in order to become Quebec law.

This article’s cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.

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