Proposed NYC bill would make it illegal for employers to require after-hours work

NEW YORK CITY — A law proposed last month in New York City would make it illegal for employers to require workers to respond to emails or phone calls while they are off-the-clock, according to multiple reports.

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The bill, put forth March 22 by New York City Councilman Rafael Espinal, is aimed at giving private-sector employees the right to disconnect, WCBS reported.

"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 last month. "This is just 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."

Under the proposed legislation, businesses with 10 or more employees will be barred from making employees access their work emails or participate in other work-related communications while out of the office for sick days, vacation time or regular time off, according to WCBS.

If the legislation is passed, employees will be able to make complaints through the city's 311 service, WCBS reported. If a business is found in violation of the law, the employer would be required to pay a $250 fine to the city and an additional $500 fine to the employee in question, according to the news station.

Exceptions would be made for jobs that require workers to be on call for an entire 24-hour day, WCBS reported.

"I think it's important that we all have time to disconnect spend time with our families, recharge and reduce our anxieties and our burnouts so the next day we can go back to work and perform at an optimal level," Espinal said, according to News12Brooklyn.

Espinal told WNYW that he modeled his bill after a "Right to Disconnect" law that was passed last year in France.

"The lines between our work and personal lives have blurred," Espinal told WNYW. "My bill will simply protect employees from retaliation when they choose to disconnect."

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