French workers just won the "right to disconnect" and here's what that means
We’re so connected in this day and age that work tends to follow us home. We answer emails in the evening, after dinner, and sometimes even in bed before our head hits the pillow.
It’s become a problem for the whole world, but France has decided to something about it. The country has issued a new law that gives French employees the “right to disconnect” from work-related communications on their devices.
This law is meant to reduce how much time people are emailing on phones and tablets for work after-hours, which is a bad habit that has led to health problems, burnout, and issues in employees’ personal lives.
Now, companies will be required to negotiate with their employees about after-hours emailing.
Workers will get a say in when they’re switched on for work and when they’re not, ensuring they choose how much out-of-office work they take part in.
Labour minister Myriam El Khomri first started speaking about this “info-obesity” in September 2015. Over a year later, the law is finally going into effect starting January 1, 2017.
Some companies like Volkswagen have already taken steps to reduce the number of emails sent in the evening and on weekends. Others are adopting a feature that will destroy emails automatically when they’re sent to employees on vacation. (Um, so sci-fi and so awesome.)
All of these changes are very much needed.
Especially considering the pressure companies can put on employees to be available at all times, whether its after you go home from from the office or even while you’re on vacation.
The French research group Eleas published a study proving that more than a third of French employees used their mobile phones and tablets to do work every day at times when they weren’t actually meant to be working. 60% of French workers want to have the chance to define their own rights.
Anna Coz, a work-life balance expert from University of College London (UCL), told the Guardian that employees should be given the right to make these boundaries both for their own protection and health, but also so they have the flexibility they need to work efficiently.
Sounds like the French care about the importance of work-life balance, and we’ve got our fingers crossed that America will take a hint and pick up the conversation where France left off.