• France's news in English
 
app_header_v3
France to give workers right to ignore emails after hours
Photo: Buzz Farmers/Flickr

France to give workers right to ignore emails after hours

Ben McPartland · 16 Feb 2016, 12:22

Published: 16 Feb 2016 12:22 GMT+01:00

The French labour ministry is thrashing out the details of a new set of labour laws, one of which could give professionals in France the "right to disconnect" when outside official hours.

Labour Minister Myriam El Khomri is due to present her package of labour reforms in the coming weeks.

While most of the measures are aimed at freeing up the notoriously rigid French labour market, she is also concerned about making sure French workers remain adequately protected.

According to reports in France she will include a proposal to give employees protection under law so they can turn a blind eye to work emails without feeling guilty when they are at home or on holiday.

The idea apparently originated in a report by the director general of mobile giant Orange, Bruno Mettling.

While a minority of companies already have protections in place to prevent employees responding to emails once they are at home, Mettling wants it written into law.

“There are risks that need to be anticipated and one of the biggest risks is the balance of a private life and professional life behind this permanent connectivity,” the Orange chief told Europe1 radio.

And Mettling thinks it would be good for everyone – both workers and their companies.

“Professionals who find the right balance between private and work life perform far better in their job than those who arrive shattered,” he said.

And Mettling’s words will strike a chord with many of the 3.2 million French workers who are apparently at risk of burning out, according to a study by Technologia, a French firm which looks at ways to reduce risks to workers.

“France’s appearance from the outside can be a bit simplified,” Technologia's head Jean-Claude Delgenes told The Local. “There is a lot of overtime. Most workers don’t adhere strictly to the 35-hour work week.”

Instead, they are staying late, doing more and working remotely because the economic crisis has them in fear of losing their jobs, he says. France is seeing a record unemployment rate but at the same time email and smart phones allow people to work any time, any place.

“We have poor self-control when it comes to new technology,” Delgenes said. “Work spills over into people’s private lives. The difference between work and social life used to be clearly distinct."

Delgenes backs a reform to give workers a right to disconnect but says it is more important that companies lessen workloads or the risk of burnout could increase.

Story continues below…

“We need a change of attitude. If we introduce a right to disconnect but not reduce the workload for those under pressure, managers will just ignore it or find a way of staying connected,” he told The Local.

“We need to stop putting people in a position where they are forced to eat into their personal time to get their job done.”

Technologia discovered that the number of managers in France, known as “cadres” who work at home between the hours of 8pm and midnight shot up from one third to 52 percent in the space of a decade.

And ironically it doesn’t mean they have become more productive.

“When people work too much, they end up working badly. It is counter-productive,” he said and it pushes many people to the edge of burnout,” he said.

Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
BREAKING
Ten children struck by lightning in Paris park
Photo: AFP

Eleven people including ten children have been injured by lightning during a thunderstorm at Parc Monceau in Paris on Saturday.

What to expect when working in a bar in Paris
Photo: Fabrizio Morrola/Flickr

Fancy the idea of a bar job in Paris? There are a few things you need to know first, writes bartender Lauren Belcher.

Five key tips to opening a bank account in France
Photo: Dave Dugdale/Flickr

Avoid the headaches. Read this before opening a bank account in France.

Afghan migrant killed by lorry in Calais
French riot police guard a truck after migrants tried to mount several trucks near the Eurotunnel, near Calais earlier this year. Photo: AFP

A 25-year-old Afghan migrant was killed by a lorry on a motorway near the French port city of Calais in the early hours of Saturday, according to officials.

French PM Valls stakes political career on union fight
A demonstrator wears a sticker featuring France's Prime Minister Manuel Valls last week in Nantes, western France, during a protest against government planned labour law reforms. Photo: AFP

Engaged in a fierce tug of war with unions and some of his own party over labour reforms, France's embattled Prime Minister Manuel Valls has staked his political career on staring down the crisis.

Which of France's strikes could affect Euro 2016?
Photos: AFP

A series of ongoing strikes in France could continue to affect the country throughout the Euro 2016 tournament, which starts in just two weeks.

Fuel crisis eases as French police unblock depots
Tires on fire in front of an oil depot near the Total refinery of Donges, western France, on Friday. Photo: AFP

After a week of fuel shortages in France, things are improving in time for the weekend.

Opinion - French strikes
'Stop pissing everyone off': French boss to union chief
Philippe Martinez, the head of the CGT union. Photo: AFP

In an open letter to the man attempting to bring France to a standstill, a business owner tells him to stop "living in the past" and stop "pissing everyone off".

Want a '30-hour work week'? Move to Paris (or Lyon)
Lunchtime in Paris? Photo: reynermedia/Flickr

Workers in Paris and Lyon put in the fewest hours out of 71 major cities around the world. Lazy or supremely efficient.

The nations the French love to make fun of the most
Photo: Romain Seignovert

The British are not the French's top target, believe it or not.

National
Which of France's strikes could affect Euro 2016?
Sponsored Article
Eat, learn, live: unforgettable holidays in France
'You're not welcome': French police chief warns English yobs
How to avoid running out of fuel if you're coming to France
National
It's Neighbours' Day! But what does it all mean?
National
The French fuel crisis for dummies: 27 key questions
National
The trials and tribulations of moving to rural France
National
Five free smartphone apps to help you find petrol in France
National
A complete guide to France's (many) ongoing strikes
Culture
Paris: Street artist makes the Louvre pyramid disappear
Interactive map: Where to find petrol in France
Who is the French union in a 'fight to the death' with the government?
Society
Opinion: Why the French are absolutely right to go on strike
National
Here's why both sides despise France's labour reforms
National
Who is really to blame for the fuel crisis in France?
National
Here are the parts of France hardest hit by the fuel shortages
Travel
It will soon be time to say 'au revoir' to the Paris Metro ticket
Culture
Revealed: The ultimate sex map of France
National
Migrants at Calais camp given dignity in death
International
How good is security at Charles de Gaulle airport?
Culture
How to make a traditional French cassoulet
Culture
IN PICS: Commuter trains in Paris get royal makeover
International
Terror attack 'likeliest cause' of missing EgyptAir plane
International
Who was on board the missing EgyptAir flight from Paris?
2,740
jobs available