Request Legal Help Now - Free


The Right to Disconnect

. By

A new bill that will allow you to disconnect from your boss after work is referred to as the “right to disconnect”.

San Francisco, CAA California State Assemblymember has introduced a bill which will give an office worker the “right to disconnect” from the boss after working hours. If passed, Bill AB 2751 would be the first law of this nature in the U.S., which is already in effect in several countries across the pond. (New York City didn’t adopt a similar proposal in 2018). And it would likely have tech companies up in arms.

AB 2751 would give employees—who have agreed-upon working hours—the right to ignore phone calls, emails and texts. The California labor law would be enforced by the state Department of Labor and employers who continually insist on after-work communications could be fined starting at $100 per incident.

Disconnect for Sustainability

State Assemblymember Matt Haney, who represents San Francisco and introduced the bill, told the San Francisco Standard that the bill is meant to return Californians to an earlier age of work in which the day was more clearly split between labor and time for recreation, family and rest. He thinks “it’s fitting that California, which has created many of these technologies, is also the state that introduces how we make it sustainable and update our protections for the times we live in and the world we’ve created… Right now, it's very murky, and people are left expecting to be working and responsive all the time, and that’s just not sustainable, and I believe [it] is impacting their well-being.”

Right to Disconnect Working in France

Haney said he’s seen how it works in other countries. For instance, common practice is auto-reply emails that state an employee is currently off the clock are common, and automatic disclaimers from managers that their messages need not be answered immediately. The French government in 2016 adopted the “right to disconnect “ labor law. It came about due to a judgment years earlier that found an employee’s failure to answer his work phone outside of his regular hours of employment was not a valid reason to fire him. Because France’s bill does not define exactly how the right to disconnect is to be implemented, it relies on employees and employers to determine the arrangements that best suits their needs and line of work, and annual negotiations between employers and employees to determine the limits between the latter’s work and personal lives. A 2018 decision by France’s Court, however, ruled that an employee is entitled to extra pay whenever he/she is asked to be available to take work-related phone calls outside of his/her regular work hours. Will this be a model for California?

Haney told CNBC he was inspired by Australia’s “Right to Disconnect" law. Reuters reported that new “right to disconnect” law will be implemented later this year and Australian Employment Minister Tony Burke told Reuters that the provision stops employees from working unpaid overtime through a right to disconnect from unreasonable contact out of hours. Similar to the French law, this bill allows employees to refuse to respond to calls or messages from their bosses during their personal time, with potential fines for employers that breach the rule.

Joanna Starek, an organizational psychologist based in San Francisco, told CNBC that “People tend to be happier and perform the best when they have clear expectations of their job…Healthy breaks are a good thing for productivity and our mental health — it’s just figuring out what, exactly, those breaks should look like.”

Opposition to AB 2751

Starek also said leaders at some of the organizations she works with — from small startups to Fortune 100 companies — are “equally confused” about how to implement the bill if it’s approved. The California Chamber of Commerce called the bill a “blanket rule” and warned it would be a “step backward for workplace flexibility” in a letter to Haney.

The SF Standard noted how the default notification sound on Slack, the popular workplace messaging application, is called “knock brush.” If you’re an office worker in 2024, chances are you’ve heard it in your nightmares. Unlike a cell phone ringtone or ding of a text message, the Slack sound can only mean one thing, night or day: There’s work that needs your attention. According to its website, Slack is the AI-powered platform for work bringing all of your conversations, apps, and customers together in one place. Slack securely scales up to support collaboration at the world’s biggest companies. Chances are, Slack and many Silicon Valley companies won’t want to support this bill.


California Labor Law Legal Help

If you or a loved one have suffered losses in this case, please click the link below and your complaint will be sent to an employment law lawyer who may evaluate your California Labor Law claim at no cost or obligation.


Please read our comment guidelines before posting.

Note: Your name will be published with your comment.

Your email will only be used if a response is needed.

Are you the defendant or a subject matter expert on this topic with an opposing viewpoint? We'd love to hear your comments here as well, or if you'd like to contact us for an interview please submit your details here.

Click to learn more about

Request Legal Help Now! - Free