Legislation in NYC would allow employees to unplug after work

April 3, 2018

In the “city that never sleeps,” there are still many people who would love to unplug. In recognition of that fact, New York City Councilman Rafael Espinal (D-37th District), introduced the Disconnecting from Work bill on March 22, which would make it “unlawful for private employers in the City of New York to require employees to check and respond to email and other electronic communications during non-work hours.”

Such legislation would be very popular among workers in the Big Apple, based on findings of research conducted last month by The Harris Poll and released this week.

According to Harris Poll 2018 data from the National Day of Unplugging— March 9—nearly half of American workers (47%) strongly/somewhat agree that they wish their companies had digital detox policies restricting emails on the weekends. And more Millennials (31%) than any other age group would take a pay cut to work at a company that enforced digital restrictions for employees (e.g., no emails on vacation, after 11pm, or on weekends).

The problem that the legislation would address? One-quarter of respondents (25%) strongly/somewhat agree that it’s “difficult to unplug because my boss is always on.”

The bill would only apply to private businesses with ten or more employees and, if passed, it would prevent employers from taking action against employees who fail to respond to electronic communications when they are off duty, on vacation or taking sick leave. However, the law would not affect employees who work overtime or are on call all day.

“I think that because of technology, the lines have been blurred on when the work day begins and when the work day ends, and there are employers who take advantage of that fact,” Espinal said.“ I think this is a win-win, not only for the employee but also for the employers because their employees… [can] decompress, reduce anxiety and be able to perform better when they get to the work the next day.”

Employers who violate the law would be subject to a fine of $250.

Research contact: Hellonyc@harrisinsights.com

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