A new bill would make it illegal to contact employees after work hours.

After-hours work emails can be stressful to deal with.

The old saying is, "don't take your work home with you." But the new reality for many people is that work follows you home in the form of emails, text messages, and social media.

New York City Council member Rafael Espinal Jr. has introduced a bill which would make it illegal for businesses to require that employees check their email or other electronic communication during non-work hours.


If an employer breaks the rule, they'd be fined $250 and required to pay an additional $500 to their employee.

The "Disconnecting From Work" bill also includes days in which an employee is out on vacation, sick days, or personal days off.

"There's a lot of New Yorkers out there that don't know when their work day begins or when their work day ends, because we're all so tied to our phones," Espinal said.

"You can still work, you can still talk to your boss, but this just is saying that, when you feel like you've hit your boiling point and you can't do it anymore, you're able to disconnect and decompress for a while."

France passed a similar law and other countries are following their lead.

France made international headlines with its own "right to disconnect" law in 2017. They have a very different work culture than the United States, with a mandatory 35 hour work week ceiling in most professions, and workers receiving an average of 31 paid vacation days each year.

One French lawmaker described the law as a necessary move to combat "info-obesity."

Italy's Senate approved similar legislation last year, and many German companies, including Volkswagen, have voluntarily instituted similar policies, where their company servers automatically shut down outgoing emails between 6 p.m. and 7 a.m. each day.

This isn't a pipe dream. Espinal has sponsored other eye-catching bills that became law.

Before you laugh off Espinal's bill as unrealistic, consider one other piece of legislation he's already successfully helped make a reality.

His "Office of Nightlife" proposal was signed into effect by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, creating a $130,000 position for former club owner Ariel Palitz, who now oversees a 12-person committee with a $300,000 annual budget dedicated to addressing the city's "nightlife issues."

As with that proposal, Espinal says his "right to disconnect" bill will actually be good both for the mental health of workers, and for the city's economy.

“Studies have shown that if employee disconnect, whether it’s from the internet, leaving the office, take some time off and go back to work the next day and do a better job,” he said. “This is great for business, this is great for the employers.”

A healthy work/life balance is important, and some people might need a legal intervention to get there.

Critics of "right to disconnect" laws say that such changes alone cannot change a work culture that is increasingly shifting toward an "always on" mindset.

And they have a point.

Much of that responsibility rests with managers and everyday workers to embrace a culture of trust where both sides believe the best work is done when someone is well-rested and healthy.

But Espinal's proposal is at least a start to help bring attention to the larger issue, and there's no better place to start than in "the city that never sleeps."

More

The great thing about American democracy is the separation of powers. The federal government has rights, states have rights, counties have rights, cities have rights, and we, as people, have rights, too.

Heck, even animals have some rights in the good ol' U S of A.

The president of the United States is not a king or a dictator so a team of U.S. mayors, led by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, are asking to go over his head to negotiate directly at next month's UN climate change conference in Santiago, Chile.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Facebook / Amanda Williams

It can take time to feel comfortable in a new home, especially if you think there are scary monsters lurking about, which is why six-year-old Hayden Williams had trouble sleeping in his new room.

Hayden used to share a room with his 15-year-old sister, but when the Eldridge, Iowa family moved, each kid got their very own. While his sister was excited for the change, Hayden was having a hard time adjusting to the new arrangement.

"My little man has been having severe anxiety since we moved into the new house…I've tried everything under the sun to get him to sleep in his own room. Nothing is helping," his mom, Amanda Williams, wrote on Facebook.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Courtesy of Capital One

It was around Christmas 2018 and Jean Simpkins, 79, was looking out the window of her new three-bedroom apartment. Eleven floors above Washington, D.C., the grandmother of two gazed out at the lights of the city and became overwhelmed with gratitude. "The only thing I could say," Simpkins remembers, "was 'Thank you, Father.'"

Almost a year later, Simpkins still can't help but look at the apartment as a miracle — one she desperately needed. Fifteen years ago, when her grandson was born, she became his primary caregiver. Six years later, when her granddaughter was four, Simpkins was awarded full custody of her, too. She's spent the time since trying to give her grandchildren the life she knows they deserve, which has been difficult on a fixed income. On top of that, Simpkins worried that the neighborhood the family resided in wasn't the best influence on her kids. Something had to change.

Then she learned about Plaza West, a new development created by Mission First housing that would reserve 50 of its apartments specifically for families in which a grandparent or other older adult was raising children who were related to them. The waiting list, Simpkins says, was daunting. There are a great deal of grandfamilies in the D.C. area and she was sure it might be years before she got the call. But soon after applying, she was offered a choice between a two-bedroom and a three-bedroom apartment. She accepted the latter, sight unseen. She knew that each of her grandchildren needed space of their own.

Keep Reading Show less
Future Edge
True
Capital One
via Pixabay

Ninjas are black-clad assassins that date back to the days of feudal Japan. They are skillful, secretive fighters who have mastered the element of surprise, espionage, and clandestine tactics.

Ninjas weren't held to the Bushido code like the samurai, so they could be mercenaries who did the lord's dirty deeds without worrying about their honor. A ninja's most important power is the ability to be stealth and sneak into castles or homes to take their targets by surprise.

Keep Reading Show less
popular