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California’s “Right to Disconnect”: A Clearer Line Between Work and Life

California Law - Right To DisconnectCalifornia, a trendsetter in employee rights, is at the forefront again with Assembly Bill (AB) 2751, proposing a “right to disconnect” law for workers. This legislation has the potential to significantly impact how California employees manage their off-the-clock hours. Here at Matern Law Group, we help employees understand their rights and fight for fair treatment. Let’s delve into the details of the right to disconnect bill.

What does a “right to disconnect” mean for you?

If passed, AB 2751 would mandate employers to establish a written policy guaranteeing California employees the right to disconnect from work communications during non-working hours. This includes emails, text, and phone calls. Exceptions would exist for emergencies or for scheduling changes within 24 hours.[1] Emergencies are defined as unforeseen situations that threaten an employee, customer, or the public; disrupts or shuts down operations; or causes physical or environmental damage.

Here’s what this translates to for California employees:

  • Freedom to Switch Off: You would have the legal right to ignore work communications outside of your designated work hours. This would empower you to set boundaries and prioritize personal time for improved well-being and reduced stress.
  • Protection from Retaliation: Employers wouldn’t be allowed to penalize you for disconnecting during non-working hours. This includes repercussions for missed calls or emails or negative performance reviews due to after-hours unavailability.
  • Clearer Work-Life Separation: The right to disconnect establishes a clearer division between work life and personal life. This can lead to a healthier work environment and potentially increased productivity during designated work hours.

Is the bill likely to pass?

The right to disconnect bill, authored by Assemblymember Matt Haney,[2] is currently in the committee stage as of April 22, 2024. While its fate remains uncertain, the bill has garnered significant attention. California’s already strong employee protections and the growing national conversation about work-life balance suggest a good chance of passage. Similar laws exist in various European countries, such as France’s “right to disconnect” legislation that took effect in 2017, offering a potential model for California.[3]

When could it take effect?

The California legislative session ends on August 31, 2024.[4] Even if passed before then, the bill would likely undergo further revisions and require implementation time. A realistic timeframe for the law to take effect could be sometime in 2025.

What should you do now?

While the bill is still in progress, you can familiarize yourself with its potential implications. Keep yourself updated on the progress of AB 2751 by visiting the California Legislature’s website (

If you’re concerned about work-life balance or feel pressured to be available outside of working hours, initiate a conversation with your employer. Finally, regardless of the status of this bill, understanding your existing rights under California labor laws is necessary. If you believe your employer is infringing upon your time off, talk to an experienced employment attorney here at Matern Law Group.

California’s “right to disconnect” bill holds immense potential for a healthier work-life balance for employees. Matern Law Group is closely following the development of this bill and we are always ready to advocate for your rights. If you have any questions or concerns, contact us today for a free consultation.

Rebecca Liu

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