French companies will be required to guarantee a "right to disconnect" to their employees from Jan 1

French companies will be required to guarantee a "right to disconnect" to their employees from Sunday as the country seeks to tackle the modern-day scourge of compulsive out-of-hours email checking.

From January 1, a new employment law will enter into force that obliges organisations with more than 50 workers to start negotiations to define the rights of employees to ignore their smartphones.

Overuse of digital devices has been blamed for everything from burnout to sleeplessness as well as relationship problems, with many employees uncertain of when they can switch off.

The French measure is intended to tackle the so-called "always-on" work culture that has led to a surge in usually unpaid overtime - while also giving employees flexibility to work from outside the office.

"There's a real expectation that companies will seize on the 'right to disconnect' as a protective measure," said Xavier Zunigo, a French workplace expert, as a new survey on the subject was published in October.

"At the same time, workers don't want to lose the autonomy and flexibility that digital devices give them," added Mr Zunigo, who is an academic and director of research group Aristat.

What do you think - a brave or naive move.......should it be extended to smaller companies....would it work in the UK ?

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  • French employment law is very good for employees. I worked for a french company and they gave me a £ 7.00 a day lunch allowance the theory was that was the price of a decent meal and a bottle of wine!!! I was a field sales rep at the time. Great company
  • PRO
    I think it's fair for employees to not have to work outside of their work hours, unless they choose to do so. When you're away from work, you're exactly that. Of course it's different for those of us who run businesses...
  • PRO

    People don't have to work outside their hours. Some chose to, some feel compelled to through peer pressure etc.

    There is always the off switch; its just that people don't use it. BTW, it's no different for us, it's our choice too.

    Usual over regulation from the French.

    • PRO
      I think it's a good thing. My wife could ignore emails all weekend but would be miles behind on Monday morning with lack of knowledge as to what's changed.
      The uk (or should I say eu?) is also very good at over regulating things!!
      • PRO

        Always at work , always on call can be very destructive and contribute to burnout and breakdowns , I have heard of employees being reprimanded for ignoring their superiors attempts to contact them after signing off for the weekend and even whilst on holiday .

        I suppose it depends on the nature of the need to contact an employee but habitual and persistent contact from a boss who is a workaholic should be restricted . 

        Self Employment ,No objection to regular clients or colleagues contacting me after hours if its relevant but telephone enquiries after 9 pm from potentially new clients particularly at the height of the busy season i find exasperating i feel it could wait until the morning . 

        The unpaid overtime point is interesting with regard to employees being disturbed  , A Ten minute out of hours  telephone conversation regarding a work matter should be acknowledged by the employer but do employees with flexi time arrangements steal time ? , a question for the conscience , a bit of give and take on both sides perhaps ,

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