Proposed Cali Law To Stop Salaried Workers From Employer Contacted Them After Hours

In California, there’s a new piece of legislation under consideration that could transform the work-life balance for salaried employees by making it illegal for bosses to contact them after hours for non-emergency reasons. This bill, introduced by State Assemblymember Matt Haney, aims to address the pervasive issue of work-related stress exacerbated by the constant connectivity enabled by modern technology. If passed, the legislation would enforce a minimum fine of $100 for each violation, establishing a legal “right to disconnect” for employees.

Imagine working late and sending an email to an employee for the next day, and you get fined. 

The bill’s introduction comes in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, which has significantly altered workplace norms. Technologies that facilitated remote work and constant contact with colleagues and supervisors have remained in place, blurring the boundaries between work and personal life. According to a survey by the Pew Research Center in 2023, over half of workers find themselves responding to work communications outside their regular hours, contributing to a culture of burnout and decreased productivity.

To counter these challenges, the proposed legislation would require employers to define clear working hours and respect employees’ off-hours, barring emergencies or work schedule issues. This approach mirrors policies in countries such as France, Australia, Portugal, and Canada, which have already implemented laws to help workers disconnect from work.

However, the bill faces significant opposition from the business community, including the California Chamber of Commerce, which has criticized the legislation as a “job killer” and a hindrance to workplace flexibility. Critics argue that the bill is overly restrictive, potentially leading to legal complications and undermining the autonomy of employees to manage their work schedules.

The bill could be a double-edged sword for many. Part of the perk of working remotely is the ability to juggle the schedule for family events like school games, etc. If the law passes, remote employees may as well commute because it would be the law for employees to be available during designated times.

Nevertheless, the Golden State appears to want to criminalize managers. Not to mention this would be an HR nightmare.

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