Many New Yorkers have demanding jobs that involve long hours, lots of overtime, and a culture that frowns upon taking paid time off. To make matters worse, employers in NYC are notorious for demanding communication after hours via email, which basically means you’re never safe from the stress of work—even at home. However, now a new bill has been introduced that would make it illegal for businesses to contact employees via email or instant message when staffers are off the clock.
The new “Disconnecting From Work” bill could be an important step towards encouraging busy professionals to find a healthier balance between their work and home life. It was introduced last week by Rafael Espinal, a city council member from Brooklyn, and is currently in the council’s Consumer Affairs and Business Licensing Committee. It would only apply to businesses with 10 or more employees and specifically aims to ban communication when workers are off duty, on vacation, using personal days or off sick. A similar law is already in effect in France, giving workers the right disconnect after work and to ignore business emails that land in their email inbox after their dedicated work hours.
“There’s a lot of New Yorkers out there that don’t know when their work day begins or when their work day ends, because we’re all so tied to our phones,” Espinal told WCBS. “You can still work, you can still talk to your boss, but this just is saying that, when you feel like you’ve hit your boiling point and you can’t do it anymore, you’re able to disconnect and decompress for a while.”
If employers break the ban and contact an employee after hours, they would have to pay a fine of $250 and $500 to the employee, which seems like a significant deterrent for many businesses. However, staffers who are already working overtime or who are on call 24 hours a day would be exempt if the new bill passes.
Considering we know that stress is related to a host of issues, from obesity to depression and anxiety, the new bill could only mean positive things for your health.