Monday 21 January 2019

Work email could be banned outside office hours by New York City

'Lines between our work and personal lives have blurred,' says councilman

(Stock photo)
(Stock photo)

Harriet Agerholm

New Yorkers could be freed from the grip of their work email outside office hours under a new bill set to be introduced in the city.

The proposed Right to Disconnect Bill would ban private companies with more than 10 employees from requiring their workers to respond to electronic messages, including texts and emails, outside work hours.

Company bosses would still be able to contact employees outside working hours, but they would not be allowed to fire or discipline them for failing to respond.

Businesses in New York’s five boroughs would be fined at least $250 (£176) for failing to abide by the rule. There would be exceptions for emergencies.

“The lines between our work and personal lives have blurred. My bill will simply protect employees from retaliation when they choose to disconnect,” councilman Rafael Espinal, who is bringing the bill, said in a Twitter post.

The proposals mirror measures brought in in France, Germany, Italy and the Philippines.

Research has shown people who responded to work communications in the evenings have worse quality sleep and are less productive the next day.

One 2017 study found the average workers spent an extra eight hours a week sending emails outside work.

Researchers monitored 365 working adults and said they found “both the actual time spent on emails and organisational expectations regarding employee availability to monitor work emails after hours lead to emotional exhaustion”.

In turn, this “negatively affects perceptions of work-life balance and work identification”, the researchers found.

But a work email ban has not been popular in the past, with a similar bill proposed last year for city workers not moving past the committee stage.

Independent News Service

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