Work plays an essential role in our lives and can control more than we would like to admit. It dictates where we live, who we meet, what we do on a daily basis, how financially secure we are, etc. While our work is crucial towards our development as human beings, we can’t forget that we also have lives outside of work. We have families and friends to spend time with, bodies to keep in shape and hobbies to commit to.
Unfortunately, the line that separates work lives with personal lives blurs for many different New Yorkers. Many parents and close friends are unable to spend quality time with their loved ones because they keep constantly checking their texts and emails about updates at work. It has gotten so bad to the point where New York lawmakers are considering supporting a bill called the “Right to Disconnect.”
What the bill does
According to NBC New York, the bill would prohibit private employers with 10 or more employees from requiring their workers from checking their emails during non-work hours. Several countries in Europe have already passed variations on this law as there are studies showcasing negative effects workplace telepressure can have on a worker’s mental health. It makes people work when they shouldn’t be and inflicts more stress on themselves.
The bill still allows employers to call workers, which is especially crucial for on-call employees and emergency situations. Those that violate the law must pay the city a fine of $250 and an additional $500 fine to the worker.
The bill’s opposition
While the bill has gathered support from people who want to improve the working conditions of New Yorkers, some believe that it could be detrimental to the workplace or a waste of time. At a city council hearing, those against the bill stated that it may be difficult to regulate workplace communications industries for hundreds of employers and that it is up to many individual workers to maintain their work-life balance rather than the company’s.
They also stated that workers should cooperate with the employer in case they are unable to balance their work and personal lives. However, the article also featured employees that feared doing so would result in workplace retaliation and cost them their jobs.
A balancing act
Whether or not the bill is passed, it should serve as a wake-up call to many New York employers and workers on how many people are struggling to keep their work away from their off hours. Employers should try to remain open to hearing workplace concerns and put their best efforts into repairing the situation or explaining the conditions to confused workers peacefully. Employees should know that they have other options to solve workplace issues in case they face retaliation.