• France's news in English
 
app_header_v3

No, France hasn’t banned work emails after 6pm

Ben McPartland · 11 Apr 2014, 09:58

Published: 11 Apr 2014 09:58 GMT+02:00

“French win right to switch off at home",When the French clock off at 6pm they really mean it” and “No emails after 6pm please, we are French”, were just some of the headlines in the Anglo press on Thursday.

They would have us believe that President François Hollande’s latest reform to protect French employees - so often portrayed as work-shy in the Anglo press - involved a crackdown on smartphones and laptops in the workplace.

Unfortunately it’s not quite true but, as the French press complained: the British press won't let the truth get in the way of a chance to have a pop at the French.

“Strikers, lazy, arrogant… the English do not miss an opportunity to ridicule the Froggies,” read the article in 20Minutes on Friday that was headlined “According to the English, we don’t have the right to work after 6pm in France”.

The site Rue 89, also accused the Anglo media of promoting the most hackneyed clichés about France.

“What is funnier [for the Anglo press] than the capacity of French bureaucrats to invent absurd rules to promote non-work,” their article read.

20 minutes blamed the Guardian blog that had started the ball rolling for the fact France “had become a laughing stock” throughout the Anglo web.

The Guardian had cited an article in Les Echos about the signing of an agreement between employers’ federations and trade unions in the technology sector aimed at protecting the health and wellbeing of a certain group of employees. One part of the agreement focussed on an “obligation to disconnect”.

“The employer will ensure the necessary arrangements so that the employee has the opportunity to disconnect from the remote communication tools at its disposal," read the text of the agreement.

News of the deal was published in Les Echos and then picked up by the Guardian.

“Just in case you weren't jealous enough of the French already, what with their effortless style, lovely accents and collective will to calorie control, they have now just made it illegal to work after 6pm. Well, sort of,” read the Guardian. Their article was quickly gobbled up by media sites from the US to Australia.

Anglo social media channels went into meltdown with incredulity at the thought of their work-shy French counterparts switching off their phones and lap tops en masse across the country at 6pm, to protect their right not to work a single minute more than the infamous 35 hours a week.

Once the smartphones were off French workers, dressed in Breton sailor outfits, with garlic bulbs hanging around their necks would then all head to the nearest brasserie to dine on foie gras and duck confit and share a bottle of Bordeaux to forget about the state of their country’s economy.

But as Slate.fr pointed out on Friday there were just a few inaccuracies in the Anglo press’s coverage of the “disconnection agreement”, that ruined this whole image.

“France has not banned workers from sending emails after 6pm” was the simple headline in Slate. The site pointed out that the agreement, which was not a new law, between federations Syntec and Cinov and unions CFDT and CGC, only affects around 200,000 workers, not the whole of France as some of the headlines would have us believe, not even the “million workers” quoted in the Guardian.

Those workers are mainly employed in management positions and work outside the framework of the 35 -hour week nor a typical 9 'till 5  or 10 'till 6 hours. In reality they work all hours of the day and evening, hence the need for them to be protected. 

Slate also points out that agreement has no mention of a 6pm cut-off point, in fact there is no ban on workers checking emails after a certain time, just that they should step away from their work email for 11 hours a day.

“If we don’t know the concrete form of how the agreement will be implemented, it is not a ban on working from home as suggested by our Anglo-Saxon colleagues,” the article reads.

Story continues below…

“We will not ban an employee from taking a USB key home to work,” said one of the union representatives.

In reality as union leader Michel de la Force explains, the agreement simply means: “That an employee who does not open his emails on his time off, cannot be criticized.”

Surely most Anglos would agree there’s not a lot wrong with that.

What do you think? Could we do with an outright ban on checking work emails after a certain time?

Although a ban on work emails isn't one of them, there are other perks of working in France  - see below.

Ten reasons why France is a great place to work

Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
British expats take steps to secure their futures in France
Photo: Oli Bac/Flickr

Brits in France are not waiting around for their politicians to ease their worries, they are taking matters into their own hands to secure their future in the country, which is clouded in uncertainty.

How gay friendly is gay Paris?
The 2014 Gay Pride parade in Paris. Photo: AFP

The French capital is sometimes called "gay Paris", and to mark Saturday's Gay Pride March, we take a look at just how gay friendly the city is.

French drivers 'getting faster and paying less attention'
All photos: AFP

French motorists' bad habits are getting worse, a new study has found.

Common wine blunders you should really avoid in France
Photo: AFP

Don't be a plonk-er. Learn to negotiate the "winefield" in France.

Ten things you didn't know about gay Paris
Do you know where to find penis-shaped bakery goods in Paris? Photo: Legay Choc/Facebook

IN PICTURES
Britain and France mark 100 years since Battle of Somme
All photos: AFP

It was Britain's bloodiest day of battle ever.

What you need to know about France's ban on plastic bags
Photos: AFP

Plastic bags are banned in France as of today, July 1st, although it’s a little bit more complicated than that.

What does the Paris ban on old cars actually mean?
The ever-busy Rue La Fayette in Paris. All photos: AFP

The ban on old cars, trucks, and motorbikes begins today. Got questions? We've got answers.

The small changes to life in France from July 2016
Fancy some Sunday shopping in Paris? Photo: AFP

It's a new month - and that means changes in France at the shops, at home, and online (plus more). Here's how you'll be affected.

French tourism industry set to suffer over falling pound
Photo: AFP

Britons visit France each year in their millions, but for many it may become unaffordable.

Sponsored Article
Education abroad: How to find an international school
Features
Gay Pride: Here are ten things you didn't know about 'gay Paris'
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Society
Paris Pride parade cut in half and the gay community is angry
Culture
What's on in France: Eleven great things to do in July
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Paris to honour Ireland's two sets of 'wonderful' fans
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Politics
When France 'ignored' the result of an EU referendum
New app aims to rid Paris pavements of dog poo
Society
No more plastic bags! See what changes in France from July 2016
National
Mixed reaction from the French as UK votes for Brexit
National
How Brexit could now scupper that dream move to France
Brexit limbo: What happens next for Brits in France?
Gallery
Ten reasons why you should think about becoming French
Analysis & Opinion
Brexit: Life for Brits in France 'will get more complicated'
Culture
20 English words that 'should be banished' from French
National
Best Briehaviour: A guide to French cheese etiquette
Features
And the best city in France for expats to live in is...?
Society
Forget bikes, Paris is set to roll out scooter rentals
National
'We fear for our safety': French police feel the strain
Lifestyle
Why Rennes (and not Paris) is the best city in France for expats to live
National
Why are the French losing appetite for baguettes?
Lifestyle
Naturism booms in France as young eager to ditch clothes
Lifestyle
Is working life better in London or Paris?
National
Dear Americans: Please come to Paris
National
It's official (kind of): French work fewest hours in EU
2,765
jobs available