A New Bill Could Make It Illegal for Bosses to Contact You After Work Hours In This City


frustrated woman checking email


Maricar Santos via Working Mother
Maricar Santos via Working Mother
May 22, 2024 at 1:27AM UTC
Maintaining boundaries between work and family can be difficult if your boss expects you to be reachable at all times—even when you're at home. But a new bill being proposed in one city is aiming to fix all that.
On Thursday, Councilman Raphael Espinal is set to introduce a bill in New York City that would make it illegal for employers to require employees to access work-related electronic communication outside of their regular work hours, Time Out reports. The bill aims to establish New Yorkers' "right to disconnect."
So what happens if the bill gets passed? If you're from New York City and are part of a business with at least 10 employees, your boss will have to think twice about her habit of trying to contact you outside of your work hours. If she doesn't, you can issue a complaint to the Department of Consumer Affairs, which will investigate the matter and potentially fine your employer.
Explaining his motivation behind introducing the bill, Espinal told Time Out, “It’s 2018, and a lot of our work has gone digital, which has made it easier for employees to access their work emails or messages from home. I think it’s important for people to know that they can draw a line as to when their workday begins and when it ends. This bill protects work-life balance, and, for employers, ensures that their employees are working at their optimal level.”
He also said he's received mostly positive feedback, as well as some criticism that workers in New York should always be on call. He told Time Out, “There was a time when New York was still the city never sleeps, but we weren’t reachable. Now it's impossible to get away from your work because of advancements in technology.”
Although the introduction and possible passage of the bill only affects one part of the country, it's good to know there's a lawmaker out there shedding light on something so many of us struggle with—feeling like we're never actually off work. It should go without saying that an employer shouldn't pressure you to be responsive to work correspondence before you even get to the office or after you leave, and it can be awkward to tell your boss you don't like her trying to reach you outside of your work hours. A bill like this one would give employers a strong incentive to respect boundaries—or pay the price.

This article originally appeared on Working Mother.

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