New Bill Would Prohibit Employers From Contacting Employees After Hours 

13 Apr, 2024 F.J. Thomas

                               

Sarasota, FL (WorkersCompensation.com) – Around 70 percent of physicians perform work related tasks while on vacation, with around 33 percent working 30 minutes or more on typical vacation day. A new bill being championed in California could make that practice a thing of the past. 

Assembly Bill (AB) 2751, also known as the “Right To Disconnect” bill, would require employers to establish a workplace policy that provides employees the right to ignore communications with employers during nonworking hours. According to the bill, employers would be required to define and establish nonworking hours in a written agreement. Additionally, the bill would allow employees to file complaints to the Labor Commissioner if their employer has a pattern of violating the bill’s provisions of at least three times, which could be subject civil penalty of at least $100.

The bill does allow employers to contact employees after hours in certain cases. On exception is in the event of an emergency, which is defined as, “unforeseen situation that threatens an employee, customer, or the public; disrupts or shuts down operations; or causes physical or environmental damage”. Changes to a schedule within 24 hours is the second exemption. 

Democratic State Assembly member, Matt Haney who represents San Francisco, originally presented the bill back in February and brought it before committee on March 17th. First introduced in France in 2017, related laws have been passed across at least thirteen countries, including Mexico, Columbia, Argentina, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Belgium, and Australia. 

Haney’s stance is that modern technology has blurred the dividing line between home and work stating, “Workers shouldn’t be punished for not being available 24/7 if they’re not being paid for 24 hours of work. People have to be able to spend time with their families without being constantly interrupted at the dinner table or their kids’ birthday party, worried about their phones and responding to work.”

A 2023 survey of nearly 6,000 workers from Pew Research Center showed that 55 percent of workers receive and respond to work related messages outside of their working hours. According to statistics from Remote, the U.S. ranks 53rd for best overall work-life balance. By comparison, New Zealand garnered first spot on the list with 32 days mandatory annual leave allowance, 80 percent sick pay, and 26 paid weeks of maternity leave.

Given the support that this type of legislature has received in other countries, it will be interesting to see if this bill gains traction in the U.S., and if it opens the door for related lawsuits by employers and employees alike. 


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    About The Author

    • F.J. Thomas

      F.J. Thomas has worked in healthcare business for more than fifteen years in Tennessee. Her experience as a contract appeals analyst has given her an intimate grasp of the inner workings of both the provider and insurance world. Knowing first hand that the industry is constantly changing, she strives to find resources and information you can use.

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