Employee Disconnecting from Work Policy

Final Approval Body: Senior Leadership Team

Senior Administrative Position with Responsibility: Vice Principal (Finance and Administration); Provost and Vice Principal (Academic)

Date Initially Approved: May 26, 2022

Effective Date: June 2, 2022


Employee: Includes a person who performs work or supplies services for the University for monetary compensation or reward, as defined by the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (the “ESA”).

Employment Supervisors: Are Employees with administrative and supervisory responsibilities in respect of other Employees. Supervisors are normally the first contact for Employees inquiring about this Disconnecting From Work Policy.

Disconnecting From Work: Not engaging in work-related communications, including emails, telephone calls, video calls or the sending or reviewing of other messages, so as to be free from the performance of work.

Work Hours: Hours of work established from time to time for each Employee by their Employment Supervisor.

Exceptional Circumstances: Conditions, circumstances, and events likely to seriously interfere with the ordinary working of the employer’s establishment or operations, including without limitation:

  • an internal or external emergency,
  • if something unforeseen occurs, to ensure the continued delivery of essential public services, regardless of who delivers those services,
  • if something unforeseen occurs, to ensure that continuous processes or seasonal operations are not interrupted; and circumstances that are time-sensitive or require urgent installation, maintenance or repair work to the employer’s physical premises, devices, equipment, and systems.

Purpose of Policy

The health and wellbeing of Employees is of the utmost importance to Queen’s; Employees are encouraged to and supported in prioritizing their own wellbeing. This Policy and any related guidelines set standards for ensuring compliance with the Disconnecting From Work provisions of the ESA, which aim to encourage Employees to Disconnect From Work outside of their Work Hours and to establish a work-life balance, whether they are working in the workplace, remotely, or in a hybrid capacity.

Policy Scope

This Policy does not replace and should be read alongside the University’s associated policies and processes with respect to remote working arrangements, vacation, health and safety, accommodation and/or any relevant and applicable legislation such as the ESA. This policy is to be applied within the context of the provisions of any applicable Collective Agreements.

Policy Statement

Other than in Exceptional Circumstances, Employees have the ability to Disconnect From Work outside of their Work Hours. Nothing in this Policy precludes the University or Employees of the University from communicating with colleagues, vendors/other third parties or other Employees outside of what may be considered normal working hours or standard business hours, but Employees have, other than in Exceptional Circumstances, the right to respond to such communications only during their Work Hours.

This Policy does not alter the terms of any individual employment contract, Collective Agreement provision, and/or minimum statutory entitlement under the ESA, which may address hours of work and hours free from work, overtime pay, meal and/or rest periods, public holidays and public holiday pay, and vacation.

The University will aim to foster a workplace culture that promotes and values Disconnecting From Work, and so will take steps to ensure Employees are:
     (a) made aware by their Employment Supervisors what their expected work hours are and will be informed of the circumstances, if any, in which            Employees will be expected to engage in work- related communications outside of their Work Hours.
     (b) able to take their meal breaks, rest periods, hours free from work, vacation, or other leave entitlement(s).

Reporting Concerns

Each Employee is encouraged to report to their Employment Supervisor any concerns or issues they may have that they feel are impacting their ability to Disconnect From Work and/or impacting their health and wellbeing. Employees will not be subject to reprisal for raising such concerns or issues or for inquiring about, exercising, or attempting to exercise any right(s), as provided under this Policy or the ESA.

Employment Supervisor's Responsibilities

  • Facilitate implementation of the University’s obligations under the Disconnecting From Work Policy for Employees under their supervision; including informing them of their Work Hours expectations and any circumstances in which they could be expected to engage in work-related communications outside their Work Hours.
  • Set expectations for Employees not to read or reply to work related communications (emails, phone calls, text messages) after the Employee’s Work Hours, in other than Exceptional Circumstances or as permitted by another University policy, or applicable Collective Agreement provision.
  • Ensure expectations are clearly communicated to staff.
  • Lead by example by following best practices, helping to establish work priorities, and establishing boundaries on workload expectations.
  • Be mindful of the Work Hours of their staff and don’t expect or require work-related communications or responses outside a staff member’s Work Hours, unless there are Exceptional Circumstances.
  • Respond to questions or concerns from Employees they supervise, regarding this Policy.

Employee Responsibilities

The University expects all Employees to comply with the following in the course of their work.

Employees must:

  • Co-operate fully with any applicable mechanism utilised by the University to record working time or update their working status (e.g., out-of-office messages) as applicable, including when working remotely, or in a hybrid capacity.
  • Be mindful of colleagues’ Work Hours, understanding that there may be Exceptional Circumstances.
  • Notify their Employment Supervisor in writing, of any meal, rest, break, hours free from work or other entitlement they feel they are routinely unable to use due to performing work for the University.

Related Policies, Procedures & Guidelines

Accommodation in the Workplace Policy/ Procedure/Guidelines
Employee Equity Policy/Procedures
Vacation Policy/Procedure 
Hours of Work Policy/Procedure
Overtime Policy 
Observed Holidays Winter Closing Policy

Policies Superseded by this Policy: N/A

Responsible Officer: Vice Principal (Finance and Administration); Provost and Vice Principal (Academic)

Date for Next Review: This Policy will be reviewed by the Senior Leadership Team on or before September 30, 2022, and as may be required in response to legislative or regulatory changes.