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Right to disconnect vs. Right to refuse unsafe work.

Updated: Mar 2, 2022

How is the right to disconnect similar to the right to refuse unsafe work?

In Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom all share similar laws that provide employees with the right to refuse dangerous work if they believe it is unsafe for them.

While the right to refuse work requires that the individuals feel as though they are in physical danger, does the same apply to mental health concerns?

In 2016, a pre-pandemic world, a study conducted showed that 745,000 people died from a stroke and other heart-related diseases due to working long hours. Now that most companies have transitioned to a completely remote workplace, it is inevitable that these long working hours have increased.

In the US, the stress they experience has cost US employers more than $300 billion annually.

This past April, 5.1 million Canadians have been working from home for over a year due to the COVID-19 crisis. While many have become accustomed to the new work-life, others feel the need to stay connected with their employers and colleagues at all hours of the day. 34% of Canadians have stated that their mental health has worsened since the pandemic.

Meanwhile, a recent study conducted in the UK, has shown that more than 745,000 people died in 2016 from stroke and heart disease due to overworking.

Researchers are suggesting these numbers have and will continue to skyrocket due to the pandemic.

Should refusing to work overtime due to poor mental health be prioritized similarly to the right to refuse work due to physical safety reasons?

Is it time for countries worldwide to protect their employees from the danger of working overtime?

Should businesses and their managers be held accountable for the role in driving up the healthcare cost due to overworked employees?

In what ways can managers ensure that their employees experience a sustainable work environment?

For more information on what Retainify can do for you and your employees, schedule a time to meet with us.

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  1. D'Amore, Rachael. Working to death: Canadians need legal right to disconnect, experts say. Retrieved July 6, 2021, from

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