France Just Made Emailing Employees On Weekends Illegal

by Mike Julianelle
Image via Shutterstock

On January 1st, French workers will have the “right to disconnect” outside of work hours

Back in May, the French approved a law meant to improve quality of life for their citizens, and now that we’re officially in 2017, it goes into effect. To the envy of everyone else in the world.

As if we didn’t have enough reasons to consider leaving the U.S.!

An article on NPR revisits the details of the law, which requires companies with more than 50 employees to set up times – after office hours and over the weekend – during which staff are not allowed to send or receive emails.

A member of Parliament explained the reasoning behind the law. “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 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 colonize the life of the individual to the point where he or she eventually breaks down.”

Sound familiar? The NPR article cites two studies that back up those claims, one from the University of British Columbia that states people who answer fewer emails have less stress, and one from Colorado State University that links increased stress to expecting emails after work.

This law is seeking to reduce stress because the French already have all the wine and cheese and perfect children and sorry I lost my train of thought.

It would be amazing for a law like this to get passed in the United States, god knows many of us are painfully overworked and chained to our phones and computers 24/7/365. But passing a law would require our politicians to actually do some work, and they already have a better schedule than anyone in France.

Over there, though, the government is looking out for their citizens, not merely jockeying for power. They enacted this law to improve the quality of life in their country. I didn’t even know that was a thing that could happen.

This is like a story line out of 1984, except the fun version, where Big Brother is your friend who only wants what’s best for you and your family!