City officials in New York are considering making it illegal for companies there to require employees to answer emails after work.
The proposal, offered by Brooklyn Councilman Rafael Espinal Jr., would fine companies with 10 or more employees if they require workers to respond to after-hours emails, according to a local television report.
The proposed rule wouldn’t apply to government employees.
“The lines between our work and personal lives have blurred,” Espinal told a local Fox News station. “My bill will simply protect employees from retaliation when they choose to disconnect.”
The measure wouldn’t prevent people from working after hours – only give them the right to choose whether they want to answer work emails after they’ve gone home. It’s being called the “Right to Disconnect” law.
The measure would only apply to private companies with ten or more employees. Employers could also ask workers to waive the requirement, by signing a contract with an on-call provision.
The idea is based on a French law, passed last year, that gives workers the right to ignore email after work hours. French unions had pushed for the law, arguing that when people answer after hours work emails, they’re essentially working for free.