Courtesy of Freepik

Californian Assemblyman Matt Haney is introducing a bill to create a “right-to-disconnect law.” Assembly Bill 2751 states that workers will have uninterrupted personal time after work hours, instructs employers to implement the bill into their company policies and penalizes those who regularly violate it. AB 2751 has great potential to improve the state of work-life balance, especially post-lockdown. The right-to-disconnect bill should be passed because it protects California workers’ mental health and well-being. 

American culture pushes people to prioritize their work over other parts of their life. The concept of the “American Dream” has created a toxic hustle culture. The American Dream makes citizens believe that by working hard enough, they can achieve their goals no matter what. However, it is improbable that everyone can effectively climb the social ladder. Yet, this concept is still perpetuated by Americans in various industries. Thus, the average worker feels inclined to put work over their personal lives under the guise of one day reaching their ideal life. 

After the pandemic, work-life balance worsened as the lines between work hours and personal time became more blurred. The use of virtual work platforms like Zoom has made it easier than ever for employers to send work home. The expectation to complete work-related tasks outside the workplace has decreased work-life balance. This is an alarming reality for many workers across the nation whose personal time has been infringed upon. In addition, work-related communication through social media, phone calls and e-mail has interfered with workers’ personal lives as well. 

AB 2751 would help improve the state of mental health for employees in California. In 2023, nearly one-third of American adults with mental illness were unable to receive treatment. Considering the difficulties people face when trying to find resources, workplaces should also mitigate potential mental health struggles, as the workplace is often a source of stress for many workers. Long-term stress, for example, has been shown to exacerbate symptoms of anxiety, depression and substance abuse problems. In addition, poor mental health negatively affects physical well-being as well. Stress positively correlates with cardiovascular diseases, sleep problems, weakened immune systems and high blood pressure. Stricter boundaries will help eliminate stressors, and cultivating work-life balance will help eliminate a multitude of other health issues. 

Improving employee mental health will also help companies in the long run. Studies have found that poor mental health results in more absences, less productivity and profits, and an increase in costs by companies to deal with said issues. Studies conducted on a four-day workweek help prove this. After implementing a shortened workweek, companies found their workers to be more motivated, consistent and present. Additionally, employees will be more actively engaged at work and less likely to experience burnout. Those who sustain a healthy work-life balance also tend to develop better concentration skills, which can increase productivity and retention rates. 

Protecting employee mental health is important because it alleviates health issues and increases productivity within the workplace. Beyond that, workers shouldn’t need a legal justification to have their personal time respected. Legislators must prioritize the well-being of Americans and pass laws that improve the mental health crisis. Employers should also care about employee mental health because they benefit from happier and healthier workers. The right-to-disconnect bill will create positive changes for the work-life balance that California workers need.