California Passes Groundbreaking Right to Disconnect Bill

Nigel Dixon-Fyle

“Sorry Boss, But It’s Late”. This Phrase May Soon Be California Law

In the Golden State, a bold piece of legislation is making its way through the corridors of power. The law could potentially change the work-life balance for countless employees. The proposed bill, introduced by Assemblymember Matt Haney, is a beacon of hope for those yearning for the unequivocal “right to disconnect” from work during their off-hours. This legislation aims to shield workers from the ever-looming expectation of responding to work-related emails or calls after clocking out.

What’s Happening & Why This Matters

At the heart of this legislative effort is Assembly Bill 2751, unveiled in February by Haney who represents San Francisco. The bill’s premise is simple yet transformative: it seeks to make it entirely optional for employees to engage with work communications during their personal time. The bill proposes establishing non-working hours through a written agreement, ensuring employees can exercise their right to disconnect without fearing retribution.

California Assembly member Matt Haney speaks at a “Just Majority” nationwide bus tour press conference to call for reforms to the U.S. Supreme Court on May 16, 2023 in Sacramento, California. (Photo by Kimberly White/Getty Images for Demand Justice)

This law wouldn’t only “free up” employees; it mandates both public and private employers to formalize a workplace policies that enables staff to unplug after work. The California Labor Commissioner would oversee enforcement with penalties for violations. However, concerns exist for small business owners who worry about potential operational hitches. Yet, Assemblymember Haney reassures that straightforward policies delineating work hours and permissible exceptions for emergency calls could “harmonize” employer-employee well-being.

As the bill gears up for assembly labor committee review, California stands on the cusp of becoming the pioneer state to legislate a worker’s right to disconnect, following the footsteps of 13 other countries. This initiative is not just about delineating work and personal time; it’s a concerted effort to stave off burnout and champion mental health.

How to set up a WFH 'office' for the long term | Computerworld

TF Summary: What’s Next

If ratified, this bill will usher in a new era of worker rights and well-being in California that sets a precedent for the rest of the United States. As we wait for the assembly labor committee’s verdict, the conversation around work-life balance and employee mental health takes center stage. Whether this legislation will inspire similar movements in other states remains to be seen, but one thing is clear: the drive to redefine the boundaries between work and personal life is gaining momentum.

Research: 40% of employees will work from home by 2025
Statistics and projections for remote work worldwide. Credit: Consultancy EU

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By Nigel Dixon-Fyle "Automotive Enthusiast"
Nigel Dixon-Fyle is an Editor-at-Large for TechFyle. His background in engineering, telecommunications, consulting and product development inspired him to launch TechFyle (TF). Nigel implemented technologies that support business practices across a variety of industries and verticals. He enjoys the convergence of technology and anything – autos, phones, computers, or day-to-day services. However, Nigel also recognizes not everything is good in absolutes. Technology has its pros and cons. TF supports this exploration and nuance.
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