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A Proposed Bill Could Mean Your Boss Is Fined for Sending You Work Emails After-Hours

posted: 03/27/18
by: Amanda Mushro
Bearded man working on his laptop late night
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Even when you leave work, it can be easy for your boss to get a hold of you. From late night emails to early morning text messages--it can feel like you never get away from your job. That's why New York City councilman Rafael Espinal Jr. is proposing a bill called the "Right to Disconnect" that would make it illegal for employers to demand their employees respond to emails or any communications after work hours. So if the minute you get home after a long day of work and your boss sends you an urgent email that just can't wait until tomorrow--turns out, that email can wait until tomorrow and your boss would have to fork over money for a hefty fine.

If passed, the bill proposes that your boss could not require a response or retaliate against if you did not respond to their messages while you were away from work. This would include weeknights, weekends, holidays, and days off. So when you are not working--you can truly feel like you are not working. Since living in a digital age often means we are always connected, this Espinal hopes a bill like this one allows us to have more quality time with our families and find time relax while we disconnect.

Legislation similar to this bill actually passed in France last year. According to their law, businesses with 50 or more employees have the option to negotiate after-hours email rules with their employees. Espinal says of the bill, "I think this will lessen a lot of the anxiety that goes with having a job in the city and allow people to draw their own lines about when work ends." He adds that employers can still send the emails after hours but they cannot require you to read and respond.

If this bill passes, New York City bosses who violate the "right to disconnect" would be fined $500 for the first offense. Any additional offenses would increase the fine if they occur within a two-year period. This might make your employer really think if the message they are about to send is really $500 email.