Teachers Win Right to Disconnect

It’s now OK for education workers in Qld and NT to have personal time.
Feb 20, 2024
Qld and NT teachers have right not to do work related tasks after hours.

Employer requests, parental queries and student contact regularly encroach on the personal time of staff and with the growth of mobile technology and 24/7 connectivity, workload and work intensification issues have only become worse.

Teachers cannot be permanently ‘on call’, particularly when the sector is facing an attrition crisis, and employees need a break from work and need valuable downtime.

So the ‘right to disconnect’ that has now been enshrined in legislation as part of the Closing Loopholes Bill, is a breakthrough for teachers in Qld and the NT seeking a break from heavy workloads.

A ‘right to disconnect’ means school staff can refuse to monitor, read or respond to employer or work-related contact after hours or on weekends.

Independent Education Union - Queensland and Northern Territory (IEU-QNT) Branch Secretary Terry Burke said new laws mirrored what had already been won last year by IEU members in Queensland Catholic schools through their collective bargaining action.

Mr Burke said pushback against this legislation from business lobbies and the federal opposition was unnecessary and harmful.

“We have only seen the widespread adoption of smart phones in the past 20 years and prior to this it was much more difficult and uncommon for employees to be contacted at all hours of the day.

“To listen to the employer and conservative commentary, one would presuppose that not only is the sky in imminent prospect of falling, but the employee and employer relationship is irrevocably rendered.

“The legislation in essence codifies fundamental common sense - workers need time away from work,” Mr Burke said.

Image by Alena Shekhovtcova