France Bans Out-of-hours Work Emails. Work Only at Work, Says New Law

It’s a common practice around the world, for bosses to think that employees can be emailed at any time of day or night. And due to the ubiquitous nature of technology, humans are turned into an always-working creatures, or at least, have been projected as such.

France, however, thinks differently.

Starting this year, French companies will be required to guarantee their employees a “right to disconnect” from technology, as the country tries to fight the modern day scourge of compulsive out-of-hours email checking.

The law requires companies with more than 50 employees to establish hours when staff should not send or answer emails. The goals of the law include making sure employees are fairly paid for work, and preventing burnout by protecting private time. French legislator Benoit Hamon, speaking to the BBC, described the law as an answer to the travails of employees who “leave the office, but they do not leave their work. They remain attached by a kind of electronic leash — like a dog.”

Compared to countries like India, which has 40 to 48-hour work week on an average, France already has a 35-hour work week, but it believes it’s still not enough.

The email restrictions could provide a benefit to both workers and businesses, by making employees more relaxed and effective. As NPR points out, academic studies have found that workplace email is a significant source of stress.

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