Overturn Criminal Penalties in the "Right to Disconnect" Laws

To the Honourable President and Members of the Senate in Parliament Assembled:

We, the undersigned, petition for the immediate review and overturning of the recent amendments to the "Right to Disconnect" laws, specifically the imposition of criminal penalties on employers.


The Closing Loopholes No 2 Bill, as recently passed, includes provisions that will subject Australian business owners, particularly those operating small to medium-sised enterprises, to up to 12 months in jail for failing to comply with "right to disconnect" laws. This means sending employers to jail for having after-hours communication with their employees. 

Concerns Highlighted: 

Disproportionate Penalties: The threat of jail time for employers over communication misunderstandings is an excessive measure that could lead to a chilling effect on business operations and employer-employee relations. 

Impact on Small Businesses: Small to medium-sized businesses, already struggling with the complexities of the current industrial relations landscape, will face additional burdens of compliance, fear of litigation, and the potential of criminal records. 

Legislative Process: The manner in which these penalties were introduced—sneaked through without adequate debate or consultation—undermines the democratic Senate process and fails to consider the broader impacts on the Australian business community. 

Need for Balanced Legislation: We advocate for laws that balance the need to protect workers' rights with the realities of running a business. Legislation should encourage healthy work practices without resorting to criminalization for non-compliance.

Request:

We call upon the Senate to urgently reconsider these amendments. We propose that the Senate works towards:

  • Removing criminal penalties for employers under the "Right to Disconnect" provisions.
  • Introducing more reasonable, balanced measures that protect employees' rights without placing undue risk on employers.
  • Ensuring any legislation related to employment and workplace relations undergoes thorough consultation with all stakeholders, including business groups, to avoid unintended consequences.
  • We urge the Senate to act swiftly to correct this blatant attack on employers, to prevent negative impacts on Australia's business environment, and to ensure that laws are made with consideration for both workers' rights and the health of our economy.
131 signature
Goal: 2000 signature

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