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Right To Disconnect Laws

California is looking to become the first state to have a "Right to Disconnect" Law. What does this mean and what are the pros and cons?


LAW COULD END AFTER HOURS EMAILS

"With the sweeping presence of technology today, the boundary between work life and home life has become increasingly blurred. A new bill recently introduced to the California legislature seeks to change that by protecting employees’ “right to disconnect.” Assembly Bill 2751, introduced by Assemblyman Matt Haney (D-San Francisco), proposes to add a Section 1198.2 to the Labor Code that would effectively prevent employers from contacting employees outside of working hours, with limited exceptions. Specifically, the proposed law would require private and public employers to establish a workplace policy that provides employees the “right to disconnect” from communications from the employer during nonworking hours, which must be established by written agreement. The “right to disconnect” means that an employee has the right to ignore communications from the employer during the agreed-upon nonworking hours.


The bill creates two limited exceptions that allow the employer to contact the employee during nonworking hours: (1) an emergency (defined as an “unforeseen situation that threatens an employee, customer, or the public; disrupts or shuts down operations; or causes physical or environmental damage”) or (2) a change to the employee’s schedule that happens within 24 hours of the scheduled shift.


If an employer commits three or more violations of the “right to disconnect,” this is considered a “pattern of violation” that allows the employee to file a complaint with the Labor Commissioner, punishable by a civil penalty of $100. Learn more


WHAT ARE THE PROS AND CONS?

"The newest front in the culture war has little to do with politics. It’s about work: where work should be done and how long it should go on. In one corner are the Americans who see the workplace as broken. They believe that their country’s relentless quest for economic growth is toxic and unsustainable. They want a gentler workplace, with more time off, pet insurance and a boss who doesn’t text them while they’re settling in for an evening of Netflix.


They were the ones cheering California last week for considering legislation that would codify when your boss can contact you after hours — the so-called “right to disconnect.” They are likely supporters of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ proposal to shrink the workweek to 32 hours. They see their adversaries on this front as set-in-their-way boomers and profit-obsessed bosses. Or, to put it more broadly, as some have done on social media, anyone older and richer than they are. Learn more

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