Dutton cops heat from police over right to disconnect

Kat Wong |

Police blasted Peter Dutton’s promise to reverse laws protecting the right to disconnect from work.
Police blasted Peter Dutton’s promise to reverse laws protecting the right to disconnect from work.

Police officers insist they deserve to switch off after work and have blasted Opposition Leader Peter Dutton for promising to reverse a new law protecting the right to do so.

Earlier this week, workers secured the right to disconnect under broad-ranging industrial relations changes.

The coalition claimed the change would hinder productivity and Mr Dutton pledged to roll back the rules if he won the next election.

Mr Dutton, a former Queensland cop, sparked an angry response from the nation police union.

Police Federation of Australia executive Scott Weber called on the opposition leader to think back to his days in the Queensland Police and recognise the importance of switching off.

“This (position) is particularly odd considering federal Opposition Leader Peter Dutton once had a career as a frontline police officer and later as a detective,” he said.

“I’d ask Mr Dutton to remember when senior police would have made similar calls to him.” 

The 24-hour nature of policing meant off-duty officers sometimes received calls after midnight requesting information or paperwork.

Though the union understood this was sometimes necessary, Mr Weber said police must be compensated for this time “otherwise it is simply wage theft”.

Officers contacted after hours were entitled to overtime in most states, and this helped provide a better work-life balance for frontline police across the nation, the union said.

Revoking this right would have a detrimental impact, Mr Weber said, and any politicians opposed must rethink their position.

During Question Time, Workplace Relations Minister Tony Burke cited the police union’s concerns and claimed Mr Dutton’s position would negatively affect first responders.

“It is targeted against frontline workers, it is targeted against police, targeted against job security and it is targeted against people ever getting time away from work,” he said on Tuesday.