New York City Council Member Rafael Espinal recently introduced legislation concerning a central workplace reality that seemed reasonably likely to garner instant attention.
In fact, it already has, with his so-called “right-to-disconnect” bill that pushes a fundamental change to a common work practice being prominently spotlighted in media outlets all across the country.
Espinal’s sponsorship of a prospective new law relates to a short and easily explained proposal.
And that is this: absolute choice granted to New Yorkers who are staring at an email message or hearing a phone voice mail communication from their employer after standard work hours.
Respond if you want, Espinal says – or consider the contact an unwelcome intrusion into your private life and simply ignore it free of any reprisals.
Proponents of disconnect legislation have long looked toward Europe as a model for workplace change that they argue is an imperative in the United States. Many European nations have laws stipulating that employees can simply check out completely once their workday is done.
That is not the case, of course, for many New Yorkers and their peers nationally, who feel beholden to be available to their employers on a more expanded basis.
The bill introduced in the City Council late last month rests upon empirical evidence for support, with it being noted that “average” workers across the metro already work close to 50 hours a week. Reportedly, the equivalent of about one extra work day is tacked onto that for most via the time they spend on emails.
Will the bill sail?
It certainly seems likely that considerable debate will surround it. Many workers in fact find that doing work outside customary business hours occasionally makes their jobs easier in some respects. And it is uncertain how such a law would impact businesses with workers and operations across the country and globally.
If enacted in its present form, the bill would apply to employers with 10 or more workers. We shall be sure to keep readers timely informed of any material legislative updates.