Title Card - The Right To Disconnect

The Right To Disconnect

As long as I can remember, the general workplace understanding was that you had to meet your deadlines and get things done, no matter how many hours it took. People would regularly take unpaid overtime for fear of not getting things done during work hours, and while it’s certainly something that can be expected to happen sometimes, it certainly shouldn’t be the norm.

Today, there has been a greater push towards ensuring workers get a proper work-life balance, and the idea of the “right to disconnect” has become a big topic in today’s society. This promotes the idea that workers can put in their contracted numbers of hours and log off without fear of recompense by their employer. Many employers take advantage of the fact that their workers get things done and will often heap more work on them because they say nothing and are eager to please, rather than stick up for themselves and stand up for their rights.

Fact is, your employer cannot tell you to do anything that isn’t specifically laid out in your contract. If you’re expected to do overtime, there should also be that expectation that you will be compensated if it is requested by your employer, rather than it being you electing to take it as your own choice. While this is okay once in a while, you should monitor how much overtime you are actually putting in, and if you find that you are doing it fairly regularly, it’s probably a good sign that you are being assigned too much work.

Many people will just run with this and never speak to their bosses about it, because it could be seen as stirring up trouble or an inability to complete the expected amount of work provided. You should never be afraid to tell your manager when you are struggling to complete your work, as a good manager will be able to work with you to find a balance that works for you and help to shift any excess work off to someone else if possible. If your manager does not seem like an approachable person who is willing to help and support you in your time of need, it may be time to consider if this job is right for you.

At my work, it is required to complete a development plan for every individual twice a year: once as the end of the previous year and the beginning of the next, and a mid-year review to see how the plan is going. Although this is definitely not a requirement in many places, it’s certainly not a bad idea to talk with your supervisor to see if you can gain a similar understanding of what they expect from you. If you don’t know what your expectations are, you have very little to no hope of meeting them.

At the end of the day, you should be working towards reaching a point where you shouldn’t have to exercise your right to disconnect. You should be regularly able to meet your work objectives within the work hours specified on your contract, barring the occasional busy time your work might unavoidably have that requires a few extra hours. Even then, these hours should be explicitly laid out in your contract and you should similarly be fairly compensated for this time.

Do you sometimes feel nervous disconnecting when you have a lot of work to do? How do you find your work-life balance?