Should Employees Have the Right to Disconnect from Work After Hours?
In 2017, a “Right to Disconnect” law passed in France, and a similar bill was introduced to the NYC Council last March. It is currently under consideration.
Living in the Information Age where we are “plugged in” to our electronic devices and spend a lot of time responding to electronic communications poses new challenges. Many businesses use texts, emails, websites and various social media outlets for communication, marketing and as a means of doing business. Consequently, the line between work and private life has become somewhat blurred.
What are employers’ rights? What are workers’ rights? Electronic communications are a new evolving area of law. Any time spent working on a job in addition to the standard 40 hours a week is subject to overtime pay for non-exempt employees.
As with any area of emerging law, there are opposing views. As an employer, you must be aware of new laws that could affect how you run your business.
What Terms and Conditions Does the NYC Right to Disconnect Bill Include?
According to the National Law Review, NYC Council hearings have begun.
The proposed law would require employers with 10 or more employees to do the following:
- Adopt written policy governing the use of electronic devices and other digital communications outside of work hours
- Establish the usual work hours schedule for each class of employee
- Establish the categories of paid time off available to employees
- Prohibit retaliation against employees who exercised or attempted to exercise their right to disconnect
Remedies against violations would include the following fines:
- $250 for each instance that an employee would be required to access a work-related electronic communication outside of usual work hours
- Unlawful retaliation would be subject to full compensation lost, $500, and appropriate equitable relief
- Unlawful termination would be subject to full compensation lost, $2,500, and appropriate equitable relief, including reinstatement
Whether this bill has enough support to pass the NYC Council remains to be seen, but it is wise to stay apprised of what happens. If it passes, numerous businesses would be affected. The fact that the bill has been proposed is indicative of an issue that may currently exist with employees who want to keep their non-work and work schedule separate.
If you are an employer with questions or concerns regarding employment law issues, our attorneys at Stephen Hans & Associates can provide seasoned legal guidance.