France Gives Workers The Legal Right To Ignore Out-Of-Hours Email

Staff at larger companies have the ‘right to disconnect’ from January 1.

January 02, 2017
France Gives Workers The Legal Right To Ignore Out-Of-Hours Email INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/Getty

The French government has passed a law designed to tackle the problems caused by the "always on" culture of staff who are available 24/7 via their phones. As of January 1, employees of companies with over 50 members of staff now have the legal right to ignore emails sent out of office hours. This 'right to disconnect' is designed to quell the rise in unpaid overtime, as well as issues like burnout and sleeplessness that a permanent level of accessibility can cause.

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The Guardian reports that a study published by French research group Eleas in October 2016 showed that more than a third of French workers used their devices to do work out-of-hours every day.

Under the new law companies are obliged to negotiate with their employees to agree on the hours in which they have the right to switch off. If a deal cannot be reached, the company must publish a charter clarifying the demands on, and rights of, employees out-of-hours. However, the new law currently carries no sanction for the firms which fail to define these terms.

France Gives Workers The Legal Right To Ignore Out-Of-Hours Email