A new law lets French workers ignore emails outside of working hours

Photo: Joe Raedle/ Getty Images.

The internet has revolutionised the way we do business — but has also contributed to an “always-on” work culture, with some workers feeling pressured into taking their work home with them and replying to emails late into the night.

And France isn’t happy about it.

Thanks to a new law that came into force on January 1, 2017, French workers are being offered a “right to disconnect” that will let them ignore email outside of working hours, according to a report from AFP.

Companies with 50 or more employees now have to negotiate with their employees over when they can ignore their smartphones and emails. The aim is to improve workers’ work-life balance, and to prevent burn-out.

Back in May 2016, Socialist MP Benoit Hamon told the BBC: “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. The texts, the messages, the emails — they colonise the life of the individual to the point where he or she eventually breaks down.”

In Europe, some businesses have already made proactive steps to try and avoid employees taking their work home with them. Daimler, for example, gives its German employees the option to have any emails they receive while they’re on holiday be deleted automatically.

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