The ‘Right to Disconnect’ Bill in California is causing worries.

In the latest episode of The Workplace podcast (Episode 193), CalChamber Associate General Counsel Matthew Roberts and Senior Policy Advocate Ashley Hoffman discuss a new bill in the California Legislature that has been tagged as a job killer by the CalChamber. The bill, AB 2751 (Haney; D-San Francisco), would prohibit employers from communicating with employees during nonworking hours. This would apply to all employees, regardless of the size of the employer, and could result in costly litigation for any disputes over the communication.

Hoffman explains that under this bill, employers would be required to establish a written agreement with each employee, outlining their nonworking hours. The only exceptions for contacting an employee during their nonworking hours would be for emergencies or scheduling within the next 24 hours.

One concern with this bill is that it does not specify whether it applies to exempt employees, who do not have fixed hours. California already has strict rules for classifying employees as exempt, and this bill could further restrict their flexibility.

Roberts points out that this bill is redundant, as California already has substantial protections in place for non-exempt employees to discourage off-the-clock work. Additionally, the state has some of the strictest overtime laws in the country, including an eight-hour daily overtime requirement and reporting time pay.

AB 2751 does contain two exceptions for emergencies and scheduling within the next 24 hours. However, the scheduling exception could be problematic, as it may not allow enough time for employers to reach out to employees for necessary shifts or changes.

Overall, this bill seems to be a solution in search of a problem that doesn’t exist, given the already heavily regulated nature of both exempt and non-exempt employees in California. The bill also includes a litigation component, which could result in costly legal battles for employers.

In conclusion, AB 2751 may not be necessary and could create more problems than it solves. Employers should stay informed about this bill and its potential impact on their businesses. 

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