French law grants workers ‘right to disconnect’ from work email

Employees in France no longer have to feel guilty about ignoring their inboxes while out of the office. New legislation says employees deserve the right to enjoy their personal time.

It’s the beginning of a year, which means new laws are taking effect.

In France, one particular measure is capturing attention: French workers now have the legal right to disconnect from email, smartphones and other electronic workplace correspondence once the workday ends.

The rule requires organizations with more than 50 employees to outline a system that ensures work email doesn’t encroach upon workers’ personal time, such as evenings, weekends and time off.

When politicians proposed the measure last year, French Legislator Benoit Hamon told the BBC, “All the studies show there is far more work-related stress today than there used to be, and that the stress is constant.” The law is meant to help employees who “leave the office, but they do not leave their work. They remain attached by a kind of electronic leash—like a dog.”

(That’s a striking simile, isn’t it?)

As many French workers rejoice over their newfound freedom, organizations might find they benefit from the law, too.

Frederic Lafage, director of engineering firm ORFEA Acoustique, told CNNMoney that although it was initially difficult to implement the guidelines, he believes workers will become more efficient now that they can properly rest at home.

Some guidelines that French companies are implementing include designating a time each evening after which workers are not expected to reply to emails and limiting reply-all emails.

What do you think of the law, Ragan readers? Should the U.S. adopt a similar policy? Please sound off in the comments.

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