Councilman’s Proposed ‘Right To Disconnect’ Bill Draws Mixed Reactions

January 17, 2019 - 1:59 pm

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Newly proposed legislation would fine employers that require their workers to respond to messages after working hours.

The City Council’s Committee on Consumer Affairs introduced the measure that would make it unlawful in New York City for companies with 10 or more workers to require employees to respond to emails or text messages outside of the normal workday.

“Virginia Tech just released a report saying that anxiety the workers have increased dramatically because of technology and the culture of being always on,” said Councilman and bill sponsor Rafael Espinal Jr.

He adds that: “Studies also show that if the employees are able to disconnect from work, they'll be more productive when they go to work the next day.”

He believes the measure will be a “win-win” for both employees, who will be able to disconnect, and for the employer, who will have more productive workers.

The legislation would exclude government employees and also enact monetary fines on companies that do not comply.

However, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration signaled Thursday that the bill is going nowhere.

A spokesman for the soon-to-be Department of Consumer and Worker Protection said Thursday that the administration cannot support the measure due to a number of issues, including “enforcement concerns.”

The City Council has set a hearing for Thursday in the first step of the legislative process. There’s no timeline for if and when the bill would pass.