San Francisco tech leaders clash over proposed ‘right to disconnect’ law

While some, like Y Combinator’s Garry Tan, argue against the law, citing concerns about stifling startup culture, proponents emphasise the need to protect worker well-being and align with global standards.

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San Francisco’s tech leaders are rallying against a proposed California law, AB 2751, that would enforce a ‘right to disconnect’ after work hours, fearing it could hinder startups. The bill, introduced by Assemblymember Matt Haney, aims to limit employer contact outside agreed-upon working hours, exempting emergencies and scheduling reasons.

Critics like Y Combinator’s Garry Tan argue for the value of late-night work and decry overregulation. Flo Crivello of the AI startup Lindy warns against replicating European policies, stating that successful startups usually have a relentless work ethic.

However, Haney argued that the new policy is crucial for worker well-being and aligns with global standards. He also said that enforcement is supposed to be flexible to avoid penalising companies unfairly. The bill will be deliberated on in the legislature in the coming weeks.

Why does it matter? 

California could become the first state in the US to establish a ‘right to disconnect’ law, mirroring similar legislation in 13 countries, including Australia, France, Belgium, and Portugal. The California Chamber of Commerce opposes the proposed legislation, stating it would enforce rigid working schedules and restrict communication between employers and employees, noting that California already has stringent labour laws, including overtime pay and breaks provisions. While workers from certain industries, notably healthcare, endorse the initiative due to soaring burnout rates among employees, there appears to be a consensus within the tech sector that the bill would significantly disrupt a fundamental aspect of company operations: their work culture.