Sick of your boss asking for a “small favor” almost every other Sunday night, sending you an “urgent” task to file a report first thing in the morning? You are powerless against the always-on culture almost anywhere in the world, but that almost is added courtesy France and their new law looking to curb this practice.
From Sunday, French companies will be required to give their employees a “right to disconnect” from all official work after the normal working hours. The Guardian reports that this law has been passed given the increasing rates of anxiety, obesity, sleeplessness and depression which have been linked to the overuse of computers and smartphones, especially for after work email checking. The French call it “info-obesity,” which is a fancy term for burnout.
Former French education minister Benoit Hamon spoke to BBC in May,
“All the studies show there is far more work-related stress today than there used to be, and that the stress is constant. 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 new law encourages companies having over fifty workers to open negotiations with employees on allowing them the right to unplug. While the companies are not forced to comply and can adopt the email rule on a voluntary basis, it till is a step towards an effective a labor measure.
This can be seen equivalent to saying “fuck you, boss” after the work hours, and was part of sweeping and controversial French labor reform effort. And while these amendments have been debated for quite some time in both France and Germany, this is the first time it has been made official. Only time will tell how effective this enforcement might be, but it indeed is a step in the right direction!
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