Would Your Boss Break This Law?
Our government – federal, state, and local – sets laws that provide parameters and regulations for society. Police and prosecutors enforce those laws (some of you are hearing the Law & Order theme song in your heads right now). Defense attorneys work for those being accused of breaking those laws.
Everyone is attempting a balancing act as part of this system, generally known as the criminal justice system. What laws are necessary for the greater good? When do laws go too far? Each party provides a check and balance against the others to find the appropriate compromise. All of life, especially in America, has been a progression of seeking to find that right place. Jurisdiction matters, after all.
This philosophical moment feels appropriate in light of a recent news story coming out of New York City. In June, New York’s City Council will debate a bill that would make it illegal for bosses from certain companies to require that employees check their texts, e-mails, or other digital communication outside of business hours except in the case of an emergency.
If you have a smartphone, you are carrying a computer with you everywhere you go. Everyone knows this. As a result, getting “disconnected” or “unplugging” is something that many people find challenging. Countless books and blogs and seminars have been written and delivered about finding work-life balance and increasing your overall happiness.
This bill is seeking a governmental approach to finding this. It sees employees as helpless in accomplishing this for themselves, and it is attempting to speak up for them. This may seem like a noble intention, but is it taking the authority of the law a little too far?
The Bill’s Details:
Many of the bill’s details still need to be worked out. This is, after all, just a bill at this point. As it is currently written, it would apply to private companies with more than 10 employees. Companies that violate this bill, if made into law, would be fined $250 per incident. Anyone who has worked in a corporate office knows how easily this fine could add up, given the use of e-mail in business today.
Because this bill is about finding work-life balance, employees would not have to abide by this. In fact, employees who find so much happiness in their work that they want to reply to e-mails and texts after hours would be allowed to do so. Those who do not would be legally allowed to ignore them until the next business day.
This bill will likely not become law. It seems, however, like it will get time for public debate with committee hearings. This is a good thing, even if it is in the wrong forum. Work-life balance is a good thing. People should seek ways to find it as much as possible. Is a law needed, however, to help employees find it? It probably depends on the boss, but generally speaking, the answer is no.
All of the parties within the criminal justice system are needed to keep the system in balance. That means that if you have broken a law – an existing one, unlike the proposed bill described above – you have the right to a strong defense with a proven attorney. Help yourself today by calling or e-mailing to set up a free consultation!
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