On March 22, 2018, a groundbreaking bill was proposed in New York that prohibits employers from requiring employees to access work-related electronic communications outside of work hours. A similar law exists in France, but no other American city has enacted such a law.
The bill would make it illegal for employers with more than ten (10) employees to require their employees to access work-related electronic communication outside of normal work hours. Such electronic communications would include emails, text messages, and instant messenger services. In addition, the bill would require employers to adopt written policies regarding the use of electronic devices for sending or receiving work-related communications. The policies would be required to include the usual work hours for each class of employee and the categories of paid time off to which they are entitled. Furthermore, the bill would require employers provide employees with a notice of their “right to disconnect” from work-related electronic communications outside work hours.
Certain employees would be exempt including those whose employment requires them to be on call 24 hours a day when working, those in work study programs, those compensated through scholarships. Independent contractors would also be exempted from these protections. Government and municipal employees are not included in the protections under the bill.
To ensure compliance with the new law, the bill proposes monetary penalties for employers who fail to comply.
While this bill, if passed, will not affect California employers (unless they have New York City employees), it could be the beginning of a national movement to limit off hours work-related electronic communications. If that is the case, is California next in line?