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Do I have to answer my boss’s texts after hours?

On Behalf of | Apr 30, 2024 | Employment Law |

Many people find it convenient to combine their personal and work accounts on their smartphones. One drawback to this practice is feeling obligated to answer work-related messages when you are not on the clock.

Whether your boss can legally require you to respond to texts and emails after hours could change if a proposed bill passes the California legislature.

Current laws

As it stands, there is no specific law in California requiring employees to respond to business-related communications outside of their regular work hours. However, many employees feel pressure to stay connected and responsive, even during their personal time.

Proposed bill AB 2751

Assembly Bill 2751, currently under consideration in California, aims to give employees the “right to disconnect” from work-related communications once their shifts are over. If passed, this bill would require employers to establish a written policy regarding nonworking hours and allow employees to ignore their calls, texts and emails during this time.


The bill allows exceptions for emergencies or scheduling changes. It defines an emergency as an event that is threatening, disruptive or damaging, and a scheduling change as something that will occur within 24 hours.

Purpose of the proposed bill

The purpose of AB 2751 is to give Californians more control over their work-life balance. They would not have to use their personal time to complete communication tasks no one is paying them for, and would not have to feel guilty for not answering the phone or responding to texts when they are at home with their families.

Possible downsides for employees

The proposed bill would not eliminate the social pressure that a boss might put on an employee to respond after hours. By not answering the phone, workers may set themselves up for retaliation or demotion. The bill mentions enforcement by the Labor Commissioner, but only in response to an employee complaint after three violations. Furthermore, the fine is only $100, an amount unlikely to deter many employers.

The Labor and Employment Committee voted in favor of the bill on April 17. Other lawmakers have expressed concerns, so it is uncertain whether it will pass in the full California Assembly and Senate.