California Legislature Poised to Approve ‘Right-to-Disconnect’ Law

California Legislature Poised to Approve ‘Right-to-Disconnect’ Law

California Legislature Poised to Approve ‘Right-to-Disconnect’ Law

If Assemblyman Matt Haney (D-San Francisco) has his way, California workers will be entitled to disconnect from emails, texts and calls when they’re not on the job so they can enjoy uninterrupted time off.

Haney introduced Assembly Bill 2751, also known as the Right to Disconnect During Nonworking Hours, on April 1.

attorney James DeSimone

Attorney James DeSimone

It does involve the government setting forth regulations that impact businesses but our nation was founded on a government that’s for the people, and by the people and the intention of this bill is for the benefit of people,” said Jim DeSimone, an employment lawyer in Marina Del Rey.

Haney was prompted to sponsor the bill because devices like smartphones have blurred the lines between work and home.

Studies published in the Academy of Management Proceedings found that employees who are expected to respond during off-hours face anticipatory stress.

Workers shouldn’t be punished for not being available 24/7 if they’re not being paid for 24 hours of work,” Haney said in a statement online.

If approved, the new law would apply to both public and private employers and require them to publish rules for following the mandate. Employment contracts would also need to define working and non-working hours.

In California we have legislators who are genuinely interested in improving quality of life because we all value some type of work-life balance and this bill seems to strike a balance and make sure that employers don’t impose unrealistic demands on employees,” DeSimone told

Employers Face Fines for Violations

The California Labor Commissioner’s office would be empowered to investigate and fine employers that violate the proposed law. DeSimone however foresees AB 1751 potentially requiring a lawsuit to enforce.

It will be interesting to see what type of teeth the bill has in terms of enforcement,” he said. “Will it say employers can’t take any adverse employment action against an employee who does not respond to an email or text on the weekend or after hours?

Any legal complications can be simply ironed out with written policies that address particular emergency situations, according to DeSimone.

Exceptions within AB 2751 include after work contact during emergencies or to discuss scheduling.

I do think it could be beneficial to set necessary boundaries for California employees to not be beholden to their smartphone in terms of being virtually on call 24/7 in some workplaces,” DeSimone said in an interview with

France was the first country to adopt the workplace boundaries in 2017 followed by Australia, Argentina, Belgium, Columbia, Greece, Mexico, Portugal, Italy, and Spain. California would be the first U.S. state to apply right-to-disconnect rules if the state assembly approves the proposal.

It would seem to me that AB 2751 would be codified under the Labor Code for which there is no administrative hoop to jump through before you file a lawsuit,” DeSimone added. “You would say it was an unlawful adverse employment action in violation of public policy.

AB 2751 has been referred to the Assembly Labor Committee and will be heard in the coming weeks.

We’ve crafted it in a way that addresses the recent changes to work brought on by new technology, but to also be pro-California business,” Haney added. “California businesses will benefit from having more productive and healthier workers.

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Juliette Fairley
Juliette Fairley

Juliette Fairley covers legal topics for various publications including the Southern California Record, the Epoch Times and Pacer Monitor-News. Prior to discovering she had an ease and facility for law, Juliette lived in Orange County and Los Angeles where she pursued acting in television and film.

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