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California Legislator Introduces 'Right to Disconnect' From Work Bill

    Client Alerts
  • April 05, 2024

We have all faced situations where a manager, coworker, or client calls or emails seeking a response outside of normal work hours. While most of us view these interruptions as an unavoidable result of technological progress, at least one lawmaker in California wants to carve out time free from work interruptions.

The proposed legislation would give workers the right not to respond to inquiries made outside of working hours. Employers that repeatedly violate this mandate would be subject to administrative complaints and fines. The bill includes a number of exceptions for emergencies and for industries with irregular working hours. If employees sign an employment agreement providing for contact outside of regular hours or receive compensation for on-call time, the no-contact provisions would not apply.

Business groups have complained about the lack of specificity in the bill’s definition of work emergencies and other terms. The legislation is based on laws adopted in a number of countries that prohibit contacting employees beyond work hours or requiring compensation for on-call time if the worker is expected to be available to respond. California is often an early adapter of pro-employee laws and, if adopted, this legislation could serve as a template for similar measures in other states.

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