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California lawmaker wants workers to ignore off-the-clock calls

A California lawmaker wants to establish a state law that says workers aren't obligated to answer calls and emails outside work hours.
California lawmaker wants workers to ignore off-the-clock calls
Posted at 11:30 AM, Apr 03, 2024

A lawmaker in California has proposed legislation that would give workers the right to ignore routine job messages outside of work hours.

Assembly Bill 2751 would give workers the right to ignore work communications except in cases of emergencies or schedule changes. The bill defines an emergency as an "unforeseen situation that threatens an employee, customer, or the public; disrupts or shuts down operations; or causes physical or environmental damage."

If approved, employees would be able to report violations of the law to state officials who can punish businesses with a civil fine. 

On Monday, the bill was assigned to the Assembly Labor and Employment Committee. 

SEE MORE: California fast food workers now make $20 minimum wage

Federal labor laws generally state that employees can be "on call" and not get paid as long as they are not at work. 

The bill's sponsor told the San Francisco Standard the proposal updates workers' protections for "the times we live in." Haney added that it is not sustainable for workers to be expected to be reached at all hours. 

“If you’re working a 9-to-5 job, you shouldn’t be expected to be working 24/7. That should be available to everyone, regardless of the existence of smartphones," said Assembly Member Matt Haney, who wrote the legislation. 

Haney told the San Francisco Standard that there should be a clear line between work and personal time. 

“We want all Californian workers and employers to just be aware when people should be working and not working, and just be more upfront with each other in ways that they aren’t right now,” he told the outlet.

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