French Workers Win the Legal Rights to Ignore Work Emails Outside of Office Hours

French workers in France have now won the “right to disconnect” right to ignore work-related emails when they leave work in the evening and arrive home in the evening, according to the Chicago Tribune.

This also means that French workers can choose not to reply or respond or act on any work email they receive during the weekends, until Monday morning.

To this extent, French organizations with over 50 staff have been tasked with modifying their work ethics so that employees will not have to be burdened with work duties when they ought to be relaxing with family or attending other private concerns outside the office walls.

Legal Rights

So if you’re an employer of labor in France and have no respect for the private lives of your staff outside of office hours, there is now a limit to how much you can pester them with work emails using smartphones or digital technology.

This new legislation became necessary when the government observed that workers are suffering more burnouts than is necessary, and that office work now encroaches into the personal lives of employees in their very homes – adding to personal stress.

“Employees physically leave the office, but they do not leave their work,” said Benoit Hamon, socialist member of the French parliament and former minister for education. “They remain attached by a kind of electronic leash, like a dog.”

Hamon added that this work disturbance outside office hours clog an individual’s life with email messages for work to the point where the individual breaks down, even in his own house and during private hours.

This “right to disconnect” legislation was pushed by French Labor Minister Myriam El Khomri, having seen a similar policy activated somewhere else within the country.

Every professional agrees that employees perform better when they have a work-private life balance rather than being burdened with work-related stress at home. To this extent, some health and work experts advise workers to disconnect from any form of digital life by switching off smartphones and doing away with the internet during weekends as a way to regain strength and return to work on Monday totally refreshed and rejuvenated.

Linh Le, a partner at Elia management consultants in Paris noted that the bedroom and the bathroom and kitchen should be a place of private activity and not a workspace; since converting these places to a workspace and using private time for official work could pose a real threat to relationships and family cohesion.

It should however be pointed that French companies are not forced as at yet to comply with this “right to disconnect” policy. It must be enforced only on a voluntary basis, and no penalties have been spelt out yet for employers who would not agree to it or implement it in their workplace.

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