Administrative Procedure 418: Disconnecting from Work

Legal References

Employment Standards Act, 2000; Bill 27, Working for Workers Act, 2021; Employee Collective Agreements; Terms and Conditions of Employment

Related References

1. Purpose and Scope

To encourage and support employees in balancing their working and personal lives, AMDSB has implemented this Disconnecting from Work procedure to encourage employees to disconnect from work outside of their normal working hours in accordance with and subject to this procedure.

2. Definitions

2.1 Disconnecting from Work means not engaging in work-related communications, including emails, telephone calls, video calls or the sending/receiving or reviewing of other messages, so as to be free from the performance of work.

2.2 Employee means all persons who are currently engaged in active employment with the District, regardless of employment status (e.g., full-time, part-time, regular, term, contract, occasional, casual).

2.3 Professional Obligations means activities related to an Employee’s duties that include (but are not limited to) tasks outside of the normal working hours (e.g. Board meetings, staff meetings, school council meetings, parent teacher conferences, lesson planning, communicating with parents, colleagues and/or community members, entering leave days and preparing materials for occasional teachers, participating in professional development, communication during overtime, responding to emergencies (such as building alarms, security breach, property damage, breach of systems/hacking attempts, server/network failures, virus infiltration, etc.) and/or tragic events, etc.).

2.4 After Normal Working Hours refers to anytime between the hours of 7:00 p.m. - 6:00 a.m., Monday to Friday, all day Saturday, Sunday, statutory holidays, and if (applicable) any other Board-designated non-working days. If an employee’s normal working hours fall within the hours noted above or requiring an employee to be available for after-hour emergencies, these hours would be adjusted accordingly.

3. Application

3.1 In the ordinary course of business, there will be situations when it is necessary to contact colleagues/parents/community outside of an employee’s normal working hours, including but not limited to:
      • Checking availability for scheduling;
      • To fill in on short notice for a colleague who has called in sick or is unavailable for work;
      • Where an emergency may arise;
      • Where employees voluntarily wish to communicate with one another for work-related purposes outside of their normal working hours; or
      • Other business or operational reasons that require contact outside of an employee is normal working hours due to unforeseen circumstances.
3.2 Nothing in this procedure precludes the employer or other employees of the Board from contacting colleagues, parents/community, or other employees outside of their normal working hours for circumstances as outlined above, or as otherwise required to meet business needs, subject to any rights or other entitlements to receiving colleague or employee may have under the Ontario Employment Standards Act, 2000 (The “ESA”).

4. Principal/Manager/Supervisor Responsibilities

4.1 Principals/Managers/Supervisors will take steps to ensure that employees, regardless of their place of work, are:
      • Informed of what their normal working hours are reasonably expected to be;
      • Able to take applicable meal, rest periods and hours free from work as required by law, Terms & Conditions of Employment, employment contract, and/or Collective Agreement;
      • Able to take vacation or other leave entitlements as required by law, Terms & Conditions of Employment, employment contract, and/or Collective Agreement and not be asked to perform work during this time subject to section 2.1 of this procedure;
      • Able to work in a healthy and safe working environment;
      • Support employees when the Administrative Procedures is interpreted differently between staff.

5. Employee Responsibilities

5.1 AMDSB expects all employees to comply with the following in the course of their work. Employees must:
      • Ensure that they manage their own working time and consider their obligation as an employee, while working, to take reasonable care to protect their health and safety and that of their colleagues;
      • Co-operate fully with any appropriate and/or reasonable mechanism utilized by the organization to record working time or update their working status (out-of-office messages), including when working remotely, flexibly or when mobile;
      • Put in place strategies to support disconnecting from work and work-related communications (e.g. removing notifications of work emails from devices, setting out-of-office notifications, stating workday hours in emails, setting clear expectations about response times for emails, taking earned vacation, utilizing wellness resources offered by benefits plans, etc.).
      • Be mindful of colleagues’, parents/community’s working hours. While it is helpful for some to work outside of traditional working hours, staff who choose to work should use ‘schedule send’ if sending emails;
      • Speak with their principal/manager/supervisor if they feel their regular workload is preventing them from being able to take the meal, breaks, or hours-free-from-work periods, to which they are entitled;
      • Respectfully discuss with the individual and/or report circumstances to principal/manager/supervisor to Human Resource Services if the Administrative Procedure is not adhered to.

6. Working Hours

6.1 An employee’s normal working hours are as set out in their employment contract and/or applicable collective agreement or terms and conditions of employment.

6.2 Normal working hours for employees may vary. It is important to remember that all employees’ ability to disconnect from work is within the context of their own individual work schedules.

6.3 Despite the establishment of normal working hours, all employees of the organization recognize that there may be busier periods or other circumstances where work must be completed outside of normal working hours.

7. Communications

7.1 Where possible, work-related communications should be checked or sent during normal working hours. Due to differing/non-standard work schedules, some employees may send communications at times which are inopportune for other employees, such as evenings or weekends (i.e. Custodial Staff). The sender should consider the timing of their communication and potential for disturbance, and the recipient should understand that they will not be expected to respond until their working time recommences (or unless otherwise required and stipulated within the communication per the circumstances as outlined at sections 3.1 and 3.2 of this procedure).

8. Posting, Notice and Retention

8.1 A copy of this procedure will be provided to each employee within 30 calendar days of implementation. Should any changes be made to the procedure after its implementation, each employee will be provided a copy of the revised procedure within 30 days of the revisions being made.

8.2 This procedure will be provided to all new employees upon onboarding and within 30 calendar days of the employee commencing employment with AMDSB.

8.3 A copy of this procedure will be retained for three (3) years after it ceases to be in effect.
June, 2022