Develop, represent, and promote the next generation of business professionals
06 June 2022

Better control of the rules of the game

JCCM

Open letter from Habi Gerba, President and Spokesperson of the JCCM.

I won't be telling you anything new when I say that the pandemic and the massive shift to telecommuting have profoundly changed many aspects of our daily lives. After two years, what has happened to the boundary between personal and professional life for workers and employers?

We can see that learned hyper-connectivity reflexes remain. A recent Robert Half study of 500 Canadian workers found that more than 60% of employees work more than 40 hours a week, and 38% felt even more exhausted than they did at this time last year.

The Jeune Chambre de commerce de Montréal, after consulting its network, found that a majority of workers do not know whether or not the organization that employs them has a policy on the right to disconnect.

Often informal, these rules can have a significant impact on the well-being of employees, in a context where a large proportion of workers say they are burnt out.

While we see this phenomenon and its impact on the mental health of professionals, we also realize that it will be complex to propose solutions that will suit everyone. It is clear that the pandemic, despite its many negative consequences, has also had positive effects for many of us: more flexible schedules, telecommuting, time savings, better work-family balance, etc. These new realities are now part of our daily lives. These new realities are now part of our lives and many companies have already adopted them permanently; they are likely here to stay.

However, some jurisdictions and organizations around the world have introduced or proposed policies on the right to disconnect that could limit this newly acquired autonomy that many employees appreciate. Unfortunately, in Quebec, we are not there yet; we are lagging behind.

RIGHT TO DISCONNECT POLICY

The expectations of many employers, as well as the obligations and rights of employees with respect to disconnection, are often misunderstood and we must quickly clarify the situation in order to limit the negative effects of this vagueness, which is to no one's advantage. The Jeune Chambre de commerce de Montréal strongly encourages organizations to adopt a formal disconnection policy, which specifies the hours of disconnection and defines the exceptions. We also believe that leaders have an important role to play in ensuring that the right to disconnect is respected, including leading by example and actively promoting the norms to be respected.

Government also has a critical role to play. It would probably be too restrictive (and possibly counterproductive) to impose, for example, fixed hours on all organizations. However, we believe that a mandatory policy would help clarify the expectations of different employers and create equity among employees.

The National Assembly needs to work on a better framework for the right to disconnect, while ensuring that solutions are adapted to individual and sectoral realities. In Ontario, it has been mandatory since June 2 that companies have a right to disconnect policy. It is time for Quebec's political class to take another look at this issue. In this pre-election period, we will be paying close attention to the commitments of political parties.

We are entering a new era in terms of work organization. It is necessary to clarify the rules of the game.