In an attempt to cut levels of work stress, France has just passed a new law that prevents companies from bombarding employees with emails outside of normal work hours.
Called “The Adaptation of Work Rights to the Digital Era”, the article aims to stop French companies with 50 employees or more emailing workers outside of normal hours, whether on evenings, weekends or holidays.
Article 25 reads: “The development of information and communication technologies, if badly managed or regulated, can have an impact on the health of workers.
“Among them, the burden of work and the informational overburden, the blurring of the borders between private life and professional life, are risks associated with the usage of digital technology.”
The article is contained in the El Khomri law, an incredibly controversial reform of labour conditions in France.
The “right to disconnect” article follows the lead of companies like Volkswagen, who decided to turn its servers off after hours, and automotive company Daimler, which “allows employees to automatically delete e-mails they receive while on vacation”, according to The New Yorker.
Speaking to the BBC, Benoit Hamon of the French National Assembly said: “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.”
Companies will now have to say exactly what their formal policies are with regards to work encroaching into employees’ private lives via digital technology.
The new law says companies with 50 employees or more will have to set out certain hours, in the evening and weekend, where staff aren’t required to send or reply to emails.