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Employees Legally Don’t Have To Check After-Work Emails in France
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Summary: France has passed a law that gives employees the right to ignore after-hours work emails.

Imagine working eight to 12-hour days, having to deal with needy clients, annoying bosses, and backstabbing coworkers. Then imagine going home and having to read emails from those same people when you’re just trying to watch House of Cards and eat leftover cheese pizza in peace. While that scenario may be a worse case situation, it is something that the French will never have to deal with. According to Engadget, the country has enacted a law that started on January 1st. That law gives employees the legal right to avoid after-work communication, and some are calling it “the right to disconnect.”


In France, any company that has 50 employees or more is required to negotiate times that staff members can ignore work emails. If there is an agreement in place, French workers don’t have to read their boss’ messages during their workout, even if the warehouse is on fire. If there is no deal made, companies still need to explicitly outline workers’ rights off the clock. So either way, win-win for employees.

This new law is in line with French values when it comes to work. According to International Business Times, France’s business world is a hierarchical system and workers value a rigid separation between their public and private lives. Rules and boundaries are important to French people, which is why a law over emails and texts makes sense.

“France puts a premium on individuality, which allows for both freedom of opinion and very separate social and personal lives,” IB Times stated. “This same principle extends to a cultural mistrust of uncertainty and ambiguity in business, with strict attention to rules and regulations allowing everyone to know their place even as friendships within a set social circle prove intimate and incredibly long-lasting.”

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Supporters of the right to disconnect said that workers are burnt out from too much screen time and that constantly working can be detrimental to their personal relationships.

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

While the law has been met without controversy, it is unclear how effective it will actually be. After all, there is no enforcement in place, and it does not affect small businesses, according to Glamour.

Do you think this kind of law would ever pass in the United States? Let us know in the comments below. 



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