Known as “the city that never sleeps,” connectivity is both a buzzword and way of life for New York. A survey published in Inc. says employees spend an average of 30 hours per week monitoring, writing and reading emails. Much of this time spent on emails is done so outside of the office including while watching television, in bed and on vacation – but this routine could change soon for employees in New York City.

City proposes a ban on emails after work

In late March, the New York City Council, via a campaign entitled “Time Out New York,” proposed a restriction on employers requiring employees to respond to emails outside of their regular work hours. The proposed legislation would apply to businesses with 10 or more employees. Employers who violated the ban would be subject to civil fines and penalties.

What the bill includes

The law would apply to employees of all types, including exempt and nonexempt. As it stands, the proposal would require employers to do all of the following:

  • Define normal work hours for each class of employee
  • Have a written policy regarding communication during non-working and holiday hours
  • Inform employees of the right to file a complaint related to this policy

From an employee’s perspective, this bill could be a welcome rule. According to Business Insider, many employees feel emotionally drained because they can’t truly disconnect from work, even when they’re away from the office. How might employers balance this proposed regulation with work needs?

Balancing work needs with time to disconnect

In addition to a written policy on communication outside of work, employers can use these tips to help employees balance work and life including:

  • Offering flexible working hours
  • Focus on when the job is done, not how much time is spent on it
  • Ensure employees take their required rest breaks already required by law
  • Employee discount programs for lunches, gyms and laundromats

While it is important for employees to disconnect from work, remaining connected to new laws and regulations remains the work of business owners.