In March, New York City Councilman Rafael Espinal introduced legislation that would make it illegal for employers to require workers to check and respond to email and other electronic communication outside of normal business hours. Last year, similar “right to disconnect” protocols went into effect in France. In our constantly connected world, banning after-hours email may sound like a dream scenario for workers. But, according to a recent Rasmussen* poll, half of Americans actually oppose this type of legislation.
The reaction to the NYC proposal reflects many of the key themes from a 2017 Gallup+ survey of employed Americans conducted after France enacted its “right to disconnect” legislation. While six-in-ten (59%) U.S. workers check their work email outside of normal business hours, most do not consider it an undue burden or stress.
Among the 59% of employees who check their work email outside of normal business hours:
- Nearly all (91%) agree the amount of emails they have to respond to outside of normal work hours is reasonable
- 67% say that checking email outside of work hours does not have much effect on their personal well-being (17% positive effect, 15% negative effect)
- 80% say that checking email outside of work hours does not have much effect on their relationships with family and friends (7% positive effect, 12% negative effect)
- Just 21% of workers say they read and respond to email the same way both during and outside of work hours (35% only respond to critical emails outside of business hours, 41% just glance to see if there is anything important)
In fact, 2014 Gallup^ research found that a majority of workers see the ability to work remotely outside of business hours as a positive.
While most adults reject the idea of outlawing emails outside of normal business hours, the 2017 Gallup study found that employed Americans do get on board with a less strict proposal to protect their “right to disconnect.” Among working Americans, support for “right to disconnect” legislation is double support for an outright ban on after-hours email.
* Rasmussen Survey: N=1,000 American adults, conducted March 29 & April 1, 2018
+ Gallup Survey: N=812 adults who are employed by an employer either full or part time, conducted March 9-29, 2017
^ Gallup Daily Tracking Survey: N=3,865 full-time working adults, conducted March 24-April 8, 2014