French Law Makes It Illegal To Contact Employees After Work Hours

France’s “right to disconnect” law mandates that a company with 50 employees or more cannot email an employee after typical work hours.

If you’ve ever been with friends or family members over the weekend then received an urgent email from work, you’re aware of the dread that fills your stomach and causes your mood to dip. Being unable to fully disconnect from work can have mental and physical health implications, which is why unwarranted contact by the workplace is soon to become illegal in France.

The country already offers its employees 30 days off a year and 16 weeks full-paid family leave; this latest initiative only makes France more popular. According to BBC News, after typical work hours, the new “right to disconnect” law will require a company with 50 or more employees to be unable to email an employee. The amendment is largely the result of studies that show that it is increasingly difficult for people to distance themselves from the workplace.

Good relays that the law seeks to ensure the full enjoyment of their time off by French citizens. The French National Assembly’s Benoit Hamon said: “All studies show that there is much more work-related stress today than it used to be, and that stress is constant. Employees leave the office physically, but they are not leaving their job. They remain attached to them by some sort of electronic leash— like a dog. The texts, the messages, the emails— they colonize the individual’s life to the point where it ultimately breaks down.

The new law requires companies to negotiate policies that restrict the spillover of work into their employees ‘ private lives. For companies that violate the amendment, there are no penalties, but businesses are required to establish “charters of good behavior” that specify the times that employees are completely free from being contacted by their workplace.

It received a lot of criticism and mockery when the law was first proposed. However, according to Linh Le, a partner at Paris ‘ Elia management consultants, the amendment is needed, especially as it could benefit the mental and physical well-being of citizens. She says burnout, described as “physical, psychological and emotional distress caused by total incapacity to rest,” can result from never being completely free of work, which is why it takes time away from the office.

Some worry that the amendment passed as part of controversial French labor law will weaken unions and increase job insecurity for employees. However, it should be noted that the amendment to digital disconnect was the one part of the law that was favorably viewed by French citizens.