Sunday, 29 January 2017

New French Law Makes It Illegal To Contact Employees After Work Hours

If you have a job where you’re often contacted at home, this new law might just make you want to move to France. For those who are able to turn the lights off at the office, clock out or walk out the door with no work-related worries until the next day, you’re the lucky ones. For so many others, leaving the office doesn’t lift the weight off their shoulders. It might happen during the car ride home, the second they sit down on the couch after a long day, during date night or a fun family outing. The dreaded “ping” of a work-related text message or e-mail that can’t go unanswered. For those who are constantly “at work,” that feeling of dread in the pit of the stomach is known all too well.

The Right to Disconnect

Workers in France have 30 days off each year, along with 16 paid weeks of family leave. On top of that, BBC News recently reported that a new “right to disconnect” law is in the works. This law will mandate that every company with 50 employees or more cannot email an employee after regular work hours. This amendment results from studies that show people are having an increasingly hard time trying to distance themselves from their workplace.
Benoit Hamon of the French National Assembly explained, “All the studies show there is far more work-related stress today than there used to be, and that the stress is constant. Employees physically leave the office, but they do not leave their work. They remain attached by a kind of electronic leash – like a dog.” Hamon went on to say that the after-hours texts, emails and phone calls are causing individuals to break down. Companies are required to establish times in which the employees are to be free from being contacted.

Health Effects of Refusing to “Unplug”

While the law initially received criticism, it only stands to benefit the mental and physical well-being of workers in France. Studies have shown that without the ability to unplug from work and get rest, an individual may experience physical, psychological and emotional distress.
Linh Le, a partner at Elia management consultants in Paris, agrees that not being able to separate work and home life can be problematic. “At home the workspace can be the kitchen or the bathroom or the bedroom,” she explained. “We shift from a work email to a personal WhatsApp to a Facebook picture to a profession text – all on the same tool. You’re at home but you’re not at home, and that poses a real threat to relationships.”