There is no country quite as liberal as France when it comes to the 9 to 5 grind. The country has become famous for giving employees 30 days off a year and 16 weeks of full-paid family leave, and has just made headlines again with a new ‘right to disconnect’ law.
If you live in the City of Love and own a company of 50 employees or more, it’s technically illegal to email an employee after typical work hours.
But what if it’s urgent? It’ll have to wait to Monday. The new legislation stems from recent studies that reveal that in our digital age it’s becoming increasingly difficult for people to shut off from work and the negative emotional and physical effects that can have on our lives.
“All the studies show there is far more work-related stress today than there used to be, and that the stress is constant,” Benoit Hamon of the French National Assembly told the BBC. “Employees physically leave the office, but they do not leave their work. They remain attached by a kind of electronic leash – like a dog. The texts, the messages, the emails – they colonise the life of the individual to the point where he or she eventually breaks down.”
French companies are now asked to negotiate policies that limit the mixing of employees’ private and professional lives and establish ‘charters of good conduct’ that specify the times employees can be free from being digitally shackled to their workplaces.
The ‘right to disconnect’ law was passed as part of a controversial French labour law that some believe will weaken unions and enhance employee job security, and was obviously viewed favourably by the hardworking French public.