France has passed new legislation making it illegal for your employer to send you an email outside of work hours.
Time to Switch Off in France
We’ve all been there, you’re heading to bed and see an email from your boss asking you for something, and have you noticed how it’s always urgent. You either do it, or pretend you didn’t see the email (not guilty), but either way your night has been ruined. You lie there thinking about it and how to deal with the situation. People are finding it more and more difficult to get away from digital connectivity, and we are seeing the rapid rise of ‘mindfulness‘,
Well this late night email situation can no longer happen with our French friends. Known for imposing the 37 hour week, truck drivers going on strike over literally anything, and general hard work, the French certainly are leading the charge for the much vaunted work life balance.
It has been termed ‘the right to disconnect‘, and was first tabled back in 2014. Benoit Hamon of the French National Assembly told the BBC earlier in May, “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 colonize the life of the individual to the point where he or she eventually breaks down.”
Unfortunately for some, it is not a catchall law. There is a caveat, if the company has less than 50 employees, the new law does not apply.
One question the new law raises, is what about international firms with French employees. Can a US firm send an afternoon email to employees that will arrive after work hours for Jean-Louis, who is enjoying some cheese and fine wine in his local Parisian cafe?
There is an increased awareness that our addiction to smartphones is affecting lives. South Korea, were the average person spends over four hours looking at phones and tablets per day, has introduced a ‘space-out’ competition were people sit in silence without looking for any digital stimulation.