California introduces 'right to disconnect' bill that would allow employees to possibly relax

It follows the lead of countries like France and Spain which passed similar legislation.

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Burnout, quiet quitting, strikes — the news (and likely your schedule) is filled with markers that workers are overwhelmed and too much is expected of them. There's little regulation in the United States to prevent employers from forcing workers to be at their desks or on call at all hours, but that might soon change. California State Assemblyman Matt Haney has introduced AB 2751, a "right to disconnect" proposition, The San Francisco Standard reports.

The bill is in its early stages but, if passed, would make every California employer lay out exactly what a person's hours are and ensure they aren't required to respond to work-related communications while off the clock. Time periods in which a salaried employee might have to work longer hours would need to be laid out in their contract. Exceptions would exist for emergencies.

The Department of Labor would monitor adherence and fine companies a minimum of $100 for wrongdoing — whether that's forcing employees to be on Zoom, their inbox, answering texts or monitoring Slack when they're not getting paid to do so. "I do think 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," Haney told The Standard.

It's not clear how much support exists for AB 2751, but as a tech hub and a major economic center, the bill has the potential to create tremendous impact for workers in California, and pressure other states to follow suit. The bill follows similar legislation in other countries. In 2017, France became the first nation to implement a "right to disconnect" policy, a model which has been copied in Argentina, Ireland, Mexico and Spain.