If a proposed law is enacted by the New York City Council, employers would be prohibited from requiring employees to check and respond to email or other electronic communications during non-work hours. The bill allows for exceptions in “cases of emergency” and would require employers to publish a written policy governing work-related communications during non-work hours. The bill includes an anti-retaliation provision, and reserves the right to impose different levels of civil penalties, up to two thousand five hundred dollars, for violations.
Excluded would be:
- employees whose terms of employment require them to be on call twenty-four hours a day on days when they are working, in which case it shall only apply on days off, including paid time off; and,
- independent contractors who do not meet the definition of employee under section 190(2) of the labor law.
Interestingly, the bill does not carve out an exception for exempt employees who are paid a salary for all hours worked.
If the bill passes, New York City will be the first city in the United States to enact such a law. It could drastically effect the way companies that conduct business in New York City engage with their employees.