THE RIGHT TO DISCONNECT

Fed up with after-hours emails from your boss? One lawmaker feels your pain. He’s fighting not only for your “right to disconnect,” but to also punish bosses who don’t comply.

Aired on September 5, 2019. 

TRANSCRIPT

> GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

THANK GOD IT'S FRIDAY.

THAT'S WHAT MANY OF US SAY AT THE END O. WEEK.

WHAT HAPPENS IF WE GET E-MAILS AND TEXTS FROM SAID BOSS WHEN WE ARE OFF OF WORK?

ARE WE REQUIRED TO ANSWER?

IF WE DON'T CAN WE BE PENALIZED OR FIRED?

NOW A NEW YORK CITY CITY COUNCIL MEMBER IS HOPING FOR A BILL TO REQUIRE EMPLOYEES TO TEXT OUTSIDE OF REGULAR WORK HOURS AND EMPLOYEEERS WHO DEMAND A RESPONSE COULD FACE A FINE.

GOOD IDEA OR THE ULTIMATE IN GOVERNMENT MEDDLING?

JOINING US NOW FOR ANSWERS IS THE CITY COUNCIL MEMBER WHO INTRODUCED THE RIGHT TO DISCONNECT BILL.

THANKS FOR JOINING US.

THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

HOW EXACTLY WOULD YOUR BILL WORK?

WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO IS SIMPLY GIVE THE RIGHTS TO AN EMPLOYEE TO DISCONNECT FROM WORK AFTER THEY LEAVE THE WORK PLACE, AFTER THE USUAL WORK HOURS.

SO IF A BOSS REACHES OUT TO YOU, YOU'LL HAVE THE RIGHT TO SAY AT THAT MOMENT I DON'T WANT TO RESPOND.

I HAVE THINGS TO DO AND YOU DRAW A LINE BETWEEN YOUR WORK LIFE AND PERSONAL LIFE WITHOUT FEAR THAT IF YOU GO TO WORK THE NEXT DAY YOUR BOSS WILL RETALIATE AGAINST YOU.

HOW WILL THIS LAW BE ENFORCED?

IT'S LIKE ANY OTHER LAW THE CITY PUTS IN PLACE.

THERE IS A 301 SYSTEM.

IF YOU CALL 311 AND FEEL YOUR RIGHTS ARE BEING VIOLATED IT WILL CONNECT YOU AND THE DEPARTMENT WILL INVESTIGATE YOUR CLAIM, INVESTIGATE THE EMPLOYER AND COME TO A CONCLUSION WHETHER OR NOT YOU HAVE A VALID CLAIM AGAINST THE COMPANY.

AND THEN IF FOUND GUILTY, THE EMPLOYER WILL HAVE TO PAY $250 TO THE EMPLOYEE AND $500 TO THE CITY.

SO ULTIMATELY OR AT THE OUTSET, IT DEPENDS ON THE EMPLOYEE.

HOW DOES THE LAW PREVENT AN EMPLOYER FROM RETALIATING?

YOU KNOW IT WOULD BE TWO MONTHS LATER LIKE YOU ARE NOT DOING YOUR WORK RIGHT OR LATE TWICE.

HOW DO YOU PROTECT THE EMPLOYEE?

THAT'S A VERY INTERESTING QUESTION AND CONVERSATIONS TO BE HAD.

AGAIN, THIS IS ABOUT THE INSTANCE OF EMPLOYEE IS NOT FEELING THE PRESSURE OF ALWAYS HAVING TO BE ON THE CLOCK.

THERE ARE LABOR RULES, LABOR RIGHTS THAT WERE PUT IN PLACE TO PROTECT WORKERS FROM ABUSE AND EXPLOITATION.

I THINK THE DIGITAL ERA HAS BLURRED THE LINES.

SO WHICH BUSINESSES ARE SUBJECT TO THE LAW AND WHICH BUSINESSES ARE EXEMPT?

RIGHT NOW THIS BILL CURRENTLY COVERS MOSTLY ALL BUSINESSES, BUT THERE ARE EXCEPTIONS IN THE BILL THAT MAKES SURE ANY EMPLOYEE REQUIRED TO WORK 24 HOURS IS NOT COVERED IN THIS BILL.

IF THERE ARE EMERGENCIES THAT THE EMPLOYER HAS TO REACH OUT THOSE HAVE THE RIGHT TO ANSWER THAT CALL.

AS I UNDERSTAND THERE ARE JOBS WHERE YOU NEED YOUR EMPLOYER TO BE AVAILABLE.

THIS IS ABOUT DOING AWAY WITH THE NONEMERGENCY CORRESPONDENCES.

THE LEGISLATION SPECIFICALLY EXCLUDES GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES.

WHY?

ASIDE FROM FIRST RESPONDERS AND TRANSPORTATION AND PUBLIC SAFETY PERSONNEL, I DON'T SEE A LOT OF GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENTS OPEN ON THE WEEKENDS.

THERE IS A SEPARATE BILL FOCUSSED ON PUBLIC EMPLOYEES.

MY BILL COVERS PRIVATE AND COMPANIES THAT HAVE TEN EMPLOYEES OR MORE.

SO THERE IS CONVERSATION ABOUT THE PUBLIC SIDE.

SO THAT ARGUMENT IS A SEPARATE ARGUMENT.

I THINK IT IS ALSO A NECESSARY ONE.

THERE ARE A LOT WHO FEEL THE PRESSURE FROM LIKE THE OFFICIAL BOSSES AND --

I SAW THIS AND I SAID SOMEBODY IS GOING TO SAY IF YOU ARE GOING TO FORCE IT ON THE PRIVATE.

WHAT ABOUT A SMALL BUSINESS PERSON WHO IS TRYING TO MAKE IT?

HE OR SHE IS ON THE EDGE.

SHE DOESN'T TELL HER EMPLOYEES TO COME IN ON THE WEEKENDS.

IT'S NOT AN EMERGENCY BUT IN ORDER FOR HER TO GET THE WORK DONE ON THE WEEKENDS, SHE HAS TO CALL THE EMPLOYEES.

WHAT HAPPENS TO HER?

THIS DOESN'T COVER STARTUPS AND SMALL MOM AND POP SHOPS.

THE FRIENDS ALL HAVE THIS RELATIONSHIP IN PLACE.

IT DOES COVER 50 EMPLOYEES OR MORE.

I'M SURE THEY CAME TO THAT CONCLUSION FOR FAIR REASONS.

I THINK IT IS IMPORTANT TO KNOW THAT ANY EMPLOYER WHO DECIDES TO CONTINUE WORKING CAN CONTINUE WORKING.

THIS DOESN'T MEAN THAT HE DOESN'T HAVE THE RIGHT TO RESPOND TO YOU.

I BELIEVE IF YOU HAVE A HEALTHY WORK ENVIRONMENT, YOU HAVE THOSE EMPLOYEES WHO ENJOY THEIR JOB WILL CONTINUE RESPONDING.

THANK YOU FOR JOINING US.

THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.

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