California wants to introduce a law that will force workers to disconnect from work

Remote worker relaxed in front of computer
(Image credit: Unsplash / Jason Strull)

In an attempt to help citizens across the state have some respite from the pressures of work, California State Assembly member Matt Haney has introduced AB 2751, a proposition designed to give workers the “right to disconnect” from work-related communications outside of working hours.

AB 2751 draws inspiration from similar legislation in countries like France, Spain, and Ireland. If passed, it would set a precedent for not only the US but other countries globally. In recent months, all eyes have been on California’s tech sector over concerns that Silicon Valley’s work-life balance has degraded.

The bill aims to address concerns over burnout, stress, and the blurring of boundaries between work and personal life in today’s digital working landscape.

“Right to disconnect”

The news, first reported by The San Francisco Standard, quotes an interview between Haney and the publication: “If you’re working a 9-to-5 job, you shouldn’t be expected to work 24/7. That should be available to everyone, regardless of the existence of smartphones.”

In the interview, Haney calls out the irony that the state that created the communication and collaboration tools that have led to concerns about out-of-hours working is also the state that is seeking to address worker burnout.

If passed, enforcement would fall under the Department of Labor's jurisdiction, with penalties starting at $100 per incident. The bill covers exemptions, such as emergency situations.

While many see this as a positive change for tech workers, critics say that the restrictions could hamper innovation and competitiveness.

There’s also the fact that, with flexible working routines and foreign hiring, many employees work different hours. If the bill is passed, and even before that if it sparks enough interest, it wouldn’t be unlikely that we see online platforms introduce clearer ways for workers to limit their notifications outside of working hours.

The news comes following an extremely turbulent few years. Workers were first sent home during the pandemic, and then the mass layoffs began. After that came a period of increased return-to-office pressures, and the layoffs continued.

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Craig Hale

With several years’ experience freelancing in tech and automotive circles, Craig’s specific interests lie in technology that is designed to better our lives, including AI and ML, productivity aids, and smart fitness. He is also passionate about cars and the decarbonisation of personal transportation. As an avid bargain-hunter, you can be sure that any deal Craig finds is top value!