Most Coalition voters back right to disconnect

by Fiona Macdonald


Two-thirds of Coalition voters back newly legislated protections for employees’ right to disconnect from emails and calls outside of work, new research from the Australia Institute shows.

It comes as the federal opposition pushes amendments to the Fair Work Amendment Bill 2024 – subject to a Senate inquiry due to be handed down today – to scrap the right. The Coalition has vowed to overturn the legislation if it wins government.

Key findings: 

The Australia Institute’s Centre for Future Work surveyed 1,017 Australians about the right to disconnect in late January, before the bill passed parliament. 

  • Three-quarters (76%) supported the federal government legislating a right to disconnect, while 11% were opposed.
  • Support for legislating a right to disconnect was high across the political spectrum.
  • Greens (90%) and Labor voters (83%) were the most supportive. This was followed by two-thirds of Coalition voters (66%). Just 18% of Coalition voters opposed it.
  • Three in four ‘independent/other’ voters (77%) and 61% of One Nation voters supported legislating a right to disconnect.

“The opposition appears determined to remain out of touch with its own voters by pledging to roll back the very policies they support,” said Dr Fiona Macdonald, Policy Director, Industrial and Social at the Centre for Future Work.

“The Coalition joined the business lobby in claiming the right to disconnect would cause the sky to fall in. They were wrong. Instead, this survey finds most Australians across the political spectrum back the legislation to stop work encroaching into their personal and family time.

“We know that unpaid overtime is endemic. Our research shows employers are stealing more than 280 hours a year from their workers. This average employee loses $11,055 a year to unpaid overtime.

“The implementation of the right to disconnect is a commonsense step towards rectifying this exploitative imbalance.”

The Senate Education and Employment Legislation Committee is due to report on the Fair Work Amendment Bill 2024 today.

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