France’s new “right to disconnect” will allow employees to escape from work by protecting those who want to ignore and turn off work communication after a certain time at night and on certain days.
The new “right” is reportedly one of several new laws in the country that “took effect with the beginning of the new year” and which seek to “exemplify the search for compromises between preserving French traditions and making concessions to the realities of the modern world.”
“The new provision in the labor law does not ban work-related emails, but does require that companies with more than 50 employees negotiate a new protocol to ensure that work does not spill into days off or after-work hours,” explained the New York Times, adding that one approach “recommends setting a time each evening after which employees are not expected to reply.”
“Several firms have designated the 10 hours between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m.,” they continued. “Others the 12 hours between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m.”
France’s Minister of Labor, Myriam El Khomri, has shown strong support for the law, citing the increasing number of employees who “burnout.”
“Employees are more and more connected during hours outside of the office,” said El Khomri in justification for the law. “The boundary between professional and personal life has become tenuous.”
French politician Benoit Hamon also expressed support for the new law, explaining, “Employees physically leave the office, but they do not leave their work.”
“They remain attached by a kind of electronic leash – like a dog,” explained Hamon. “The texts, the messages, the emails – they colonize the life of the individual to the point where he or she eventually breaks down.”
Though the law currently only extends to French companies with over fifty employees, workers in the country have enjoyed a 35-hour-week work limit since 2000, as well as extra long holidays.
These laws are unique to France and unseen in other Western counties such as the United States or the United Kingdom, which feature less state intervention.