Right to disconnect: rules, formalities, and best practices

Right to disconnect: rules, formalities, and best practices

Posté le

4 reading time

Le droit à la déconnexion : quelles sont les règles et formalités à suivre ?

The right to disconnect is a fundamental pillar for the balance between professional and personal life. However, the emergence of new technologies has made employees increasingly accessible digitally. These new communication channels have taken on an progressively significant role in professional daily life.

In this article, we will explore the ins and outs of the right to disconnect, its objectives, its application in the workplace, the required formalities, as well as recommendations to ensure its compliance. We will also examine how solutions can prevent the risks of hyperconnectivity and promote a balanced work environment.

What is the right to disconnect?

The right to disconnect is a legal provision that came into effect on January 1, 2023, in Belgium, aimed at protecting workers from the constant pressure of being available outside of their working hours.

According to a survey by a social secretariat, 25% of workers feel that their management expects them to work outside of working hours, including evenings and weekends. The right to disconnect has become a fundamental right allowing employees to disconnect from their professional obligations during their rest and leave periods.

In concrete terms, this means that employers can no longer require workers to respond to emails, WhatsApp messages, SMS, or other work-related phone calls outside of working hours, subject to certain conditions.

The objectives of the right to disconnect

The main objective of the right to disconnect is to promote a healthy balance between professional and personal life. By preventing employers from demanding that employees respond to work-related communications outside of working hours, this measure aims to prevent burnout and promote the well-being of employees.

Employees are thus better protected from overwork or constant pressure that may lead them to remain connected outside of office hours.

This legislation allows employees to dedicate their free time to personal activities and their families, thus returning to work more rested and effective.

Which employers does the right to disconnect apply to?

In Belgium, the right to disconnect applies to all companies employing at least 20 workers. These companies are required to implement concrete measures to ensure this right for their employees. They must ensure this right for their employees when they are no longer supposed to be working.

The required formalities

To comply with the right to disconnect, employers have two options. The first option involves concluding a Collective Labor Agreement (CLA) at the company level, while the second option involves amending the work regulations to include provisions regarding disconnection.

The disconnection policy implemented by the employer must at least define:

  • All practical modalities aimed at establishing concrete procedures ensuring workers the right not to be solicited outside of their working hours. This can include clearly defining time slots during which professional communications are not expected, as well as specific guidelines on how to handle emergencies outside of these hours.
  • The instructions regarding the use of digital tools are essential to ensure respect for employees’ rest and leave periods. This may involve establishing policies regarding notifications outside of working hours, automatic deactivation of professional emails during holidays, or promoting responsible use of remote communication tools.
  • The implementation of training and awareness-raising actions is crucial to help workers and managers understand the importance of disconnection and to recognize the risks associated with excessive connectivity. These initiatives may include training sessions on time and stress management, workshops on best practices for using technology, as well as awareness campaigns on the balance between work and personal life.

What sanctions are there in case of non-compliance with the right to disconnect?

There are currently no specific sanctions.

However, the Social Laws Control may invoke the Social Criminal Code for non-compliance with provisions related to occupational health and safety.

Reinventing corporate culture

The need to disconnect is undeniable. However, realizing this requirement proves to be a challenging task.

The challenge lies in devising strategies that enable employees to achieve their goals without being constantly connected during their rest periods, evenings, or weekends. This approach must be tailored to each company, taking into account its specificities and its own requirements.

Right to disconnect: how to measure and take action against phenomena of hyperconnectivity in the workplace?

A thorough assessment of the current situation is therefore recommended. It is crucial, first and foremost, to understand the reasons why some employees feel compelled to remain constantly reachable.

This could stem from a lack of skills or knowledge to accomplish certain tasks, or from a heavy workload managing multiple projects simultaneously. It is imperative, based on individual responsibilities, to draw insights from these observations to improve the corporate culture and adapt internal organization accordingly.

Recommendations to ensure the right to disconnect

To ensure compliance with the right to disconnect, employers can implement several practical measures.

Among these, we can mention:

  • Indicating in email signatures that an immediate response is not necessary.
  • The option for employees to activate automatic out-of-office messages.
  • Or, the activation of computer servers’ sleep mode outside of working hours.

These recommendations aim to create a balanced work environment and ensure respect for workers’ rights.

Identifying and preventing the risks of hyperconnectivity with Balencio

As the boundaries between work and personal life often blur, it is crucial to be able to identify and prevent the risks of hyperconnectivity to ensure the well-being of workers and their long-term performance. Balencio’s Hyperconnection module allows you to easily measure hyperconnectivity phenomena within your company and raise awareness among employees about various risky behaviors. Once the module is completed, your teams also receive personalized recommendations.

Book a demo to discover how Balencio can facilitate your analyses and help you cultivate a positive corporate culture focused on the well-being and performance of your teams.

Bastien Lengelé Avatar