WAPU on Facebook

WAPU on Twitter

Email sig image
WA police officers need the right to disconnect. Because if you can’t switch off off duty, you can’t be on on duty.
That’s the key message that permeates the WA Police Union’s Switch Off Duty campaign as it launches today.
The right to disconnect is the centrepiece item in the WA Police Union’s log of claimsclaims that sets out what its 7,000+ members, which make up approximately 98% of WA police officers, want included in their replacement industrial agreement.
The WA Police Union is engaged in good faith bargaining with the McGowan Government and WA Police Force for a deal that includes the right to disconnect to replace the expiring Western Australia Police Force Industrial Agreement 2021
“When I joined the WA Police Force 33 years ago, I’d only receive an out-of-hours call from my boss about something that was really significant, such as if my gun were missing from the armoury,” says Mick Kelly, WA Police Union President. 
“It was a world in which mobile phones weren’t commonplace, computers were little more than word processors and people would think nothing of telling you off for disturbing their private lives. Nowadays, everyone’s got a direct line to everyone else, whether that’s by calling, texting or emailing. Consequently, employees are more open to their employers contacting them away from work, and police officers have developed a culture of always being on duty.
“What would’ve been a note in a police officer’s locker in 1989 would be a text to their mobile when they’re off duty in 2022. The right to disconnect would give them permission to manage what’s become the societal norm and culturally acceptable. It’s not the norm, and it’s not acceptable.”
In 2004, a French court judgement introduced the right-to-disconnect concept to policy makers. In 2016, the Valls Government passed a labour law that, among other provisions, included the right to disconnect.
In 2020, the Victoria Police (Police Officers, Protective Services Officers, Police Reservists and Police Recruits) Enterprise Agreement 2019 incorporated the right to disconnect. 
Remuneration, resources and respite are the three central themes of the WA Police Union’s log of claims, which it submitted to authorities three months ago.
The WA Police Union’s remuneration claims include recognition of the positive contributions its members have made protecting WA throughout the COVID-19 pandemic over the past two years, the negative impacts they’ve endured toiling under restrictive wages policies over the past five years and their real need to experience real growth in their pay packets, both now and in the future.
In December, the McGowan Government announced its new public sector wages policypolicy would provide ‘above-CPI wage rises’ over the next two years. However, in April, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported Perth’s year-on-year CPI was +7.6%, 1.6% higher than any other Australian state or territory capital city.
That’s why a 5% pay rise annually is one of the WA Police Union’s remuneration claims, along with increasing shift allowances, overtime rates and missed meal rates, introducing penalty payments on the significant public holidays of Good Friday and Christmas Day and insuring officers with universal private health cover.
The WA Police Union’s resources claims include recognition of the logistical challenges its members face due to a rostering pattern that’s too short. It’s impossible for them to plan their lives when they don’t know their work hours more than one week in advance.
And the WA Police Union’s respite claims include recognition of the need for its members to switch off from their uniquely demanding jobs when they’re off duty. 
The right to disconnect establishes boundaries around the use of employer-to -employee communications outside rostered working hours. It’s often looked upon as the individual right of the employee to not only disconnect but also not receive a reprimand for failing to connect or a reward for constantly staying connected.
Date: Sunday, 26 June 2022