Weekend Work Emails Are Now Illegal In France

by Maria Guido
Originally Published: 
Image via Shutterstock

Companies with 50 or more employees are no longer allowed to email their employees on the weekends

They already have the best cheese and the Eiffel Tower, and now they have the “right to disconnect” on weekends. France, we’re jealous.

A law was just passed making it illegal for companies with more than 50 employees to send work emails on the weekend. Or on holidays. That’s glorious. It’s being called the “right to disconnect” amendment, and it’s goal is to minimize the negative effects of being constantly plugged in.

“All the studies show there is far more work-related stress today than there used to be, and that the stress is constant,” Socialist MP 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 colonise the life of the individual to the point where he or she eventually breaks down.”

[shareable_quote]”Employees physically leave the office, but they do not leave their work. They remain attached by a kind of electronic leash – like a dog.”[/shareable_quote]

It’s true. For all of the conveniences our data plans have brought us, there is one major downfall. People expect that you are reachable at all times. Just because you own a device that has the power to deliver your emails to your fingertips, doesn’t mean you are constantly checking it, or are obliged to for that matter — especially on your days off. But how many of us find ourselves doing just that because we don’t want to be seen as “slacking off.” Everyone should be allowed their personal time. It’s not “time off” if there are hovering expectations that you still perform.

“You’re at home but you’re not at home, and that poses a real threat to relationships,”Linh Le, a partner at Elia management consultants in Paris told the BBC. She describes the burnout employees feel from not being able to disconnect as “physical, psychological and emotional distress caused by a total inability to rest.” This provision of the law requires companies to have “charters of conduct” that specifically list hours that employees should not send or receive work emails.

The Huffington Post reports that there is currently “no penalty for violating the law and companies are expected to voluntarily adhere to it.”

For all the talk about “screen addiction” it’s about time we realize the inability to unplug isn’t always our choice. This type of labor provision will become increasingly necessary in our new normal of constant connectedness.

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