Boss, work, Phone call

New California Legislation Creates Ways To Ignore Your Boss After Business Hours

He's got our vote!

New California legislation hopes to help employees disconnect from their superiors after business hours.

Assembly Bill 2751, introduced by Assemblymember Matt Haney, would allow employees to ignore calls and texts from employers after leaving the office. The Golden State would be the first to adopt a “right to disconnect” law, targeting both public and private employers. 

AB 2751, filed in February 2024, would require employers to clearly outline working hours and guarantee workers uninterrupted personal and family time outside those hours.

Workplace culture drastically changed since the COVID-19 pandemic, adding remote or hybrid schedules for some employees. While flexible schedules and location policies remain in place, the policies are making it harder for workers to secure a concrete end to their workday. “People now find themselves always on and never off,” Haney said.

“The problem we have now is the gray area, where an employee is expected to respond all the time when on paper they work a 9-to-5 job.”

There will be some exceptions for emergencies or scheduling changes, but Haney says the law wasn’t created for people not to work late — but for working hours to be laid out concisely and avoid burnout. “They just need to have a policy on it about when people are working and when they are not. It shouldn’t be that hard and the problem right now is the murkiness and the gray area can lead people to feel that they need to be on 24/7,” the San Francisco lawmaker said, according to CBS News.  

“If an employee consents to working late hours and being available all the time, have them sign on to that in their employee contract.”

Residents are already on board with the legislation. Tony Richelle, who works in the real estate industry, thinks answering the phone after hours shouldn’t be required. “An employee ought to have the opportunity to choose if they answer that call,” Richelle said. “Sometimes I won’t even answer the phone, and that’s an option. That’s a choice that I have, and that’s a choice other people have. There might be consequences of that choice.”

However, there are some concerns for small-owned businesses. Employees of small businesses may face consequences if they don’t answer the phone.

“Small businesses could be hamstrung if an employee is not able to answer the phone or if an owner says, ‘I can’t call this person because I might get in trouble,'” Richelle mentioned. “It might impact that business for one reason or another.”

Mirroring legislation has already passed in 13 countries, including Belgium and Mexico. The bill has not yet been signed into law, but it is in the hands of the Assembly’s Committee on Labor and Employment, facing amendments. It is expected to go to a fiscal committee before a final reading on the State Assembly floor for a vote. If it receives a majority vote, it will then head to the State Senate.