Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

No more stress: why France has decided to ban out-of-hour work emails

iStock_000092980771_Large.jpg

The digital revolution has meant that the lines between the office and our home lives are increasingly blurred. Now, in an attempt to save employees from “digital burnout”, the French government is about to vote through a bill giving workers the legal “right to disconnect” from work emails.

President Francois Hollande used special constitutional powers on Tuesday to push a labour bill through the French Parliament. Under the bill, companies with more than 50 employees must state the hours during which staff must not send or answer work emails – normally in the evening and at weekends.

“All the studies show there is far more work-related stress today than there used to be, and that the stress is constant,” Socialist MP Benoit Hamon told the BBC.

“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 texts, the messages, the emails – they colonise the life of the individual to the point where he or she eventually breaks down.”

Phone

Checking work emails first thing in the morning has been shown to raise stress levels.

Mr Hamon’s analogy might sound ever so slightly OTT to British ears, but we shouldn’t underestimate the impact of being constantly connected to work.

Last year, a UK study showed that employees who check their work email early in the morning or late at night feel more pressurised – and that high email pressure negatively impacts their home lives. Their home life then had a negative effect on their performance at work.

Another study, by Harvard Business School professor Leslie Perlow, showed that workers who were made to disconnect from work-related content on their smartphones and tablets felt happier at home – and were more satisfied, enthusiastic and efficient at work.



And a study of over 32,500 UK employees by Britain’s Healthiest Workplace found that high stress contributes to industries losing up to 27 days of productive time per employee each year, costing the UK an average £57bn a year.

But while there is widespread support for the idea behind the “right to disconnect” law in France, there is some debate about whether it will be enforceable. Currently, there is no penalty for violation written into the legislation, and companies are expected to comply with the law voluntarily.

With the exception of the “right to disconnect” law, the labour reforms pushed through on Tuesday have been wildly unpopular in France, with violent protests breaking out in Paris and Nantes. President Hollande has made it easier for French employers to hire and fire, prompting fears that workers’ rights will be compromised.

Images: iStock

Related

London.jpg

Why we should resist London's toxic culture of overtime

308_feat_prickly_lead.jpg

Why are we all so prickly nowadays?

Denmark.jpg

Why the Danes finish work on time, every single day

ThinkstockPhotos-153785155.jpg

The everyday habits that could be raising your stress levels

youve got mail tech.jpg

The art of slow living: how to master a tech-life balance in 2016

ThinkstockPhotos-100636347.jpg

Is it ever appropriate to sign off work emails with a kiss?

original.jpg

Five things productive people do at the end of every working day

iStock_000073088015_Medium.jpg

How living like a Danish woman made me happier

typing.jpg

How to nail difficult work emails

Comments

More

Starbucks are hiring 2,500 refugees across Europe

by Nicola Colyer
23 Jun 2017

Man carries out flower girl duties with immense pride and solemnity

His commitment is quite something

by Amy Swales
23 Jun 2017

Shocking US law says men can finish sex if woman withdraws consent

Shocking

by Moya Crockett
23 Jun 2017

Serial fans, Adnan Syed has been given a second chance in court

New hope for Syed supporters

by Kayleigh Dray
23 Jun 2017

The scientific reason summer turns you into a horrible person

A new study confirms that we’re not very nice when we’re too hot

by Moya Crockett
23 Jun 2017

The 5 most surprising things I learnt from appearing on First Dates

What's it really like to appear on First Dates?

by Jasmine Andersson
22 Jun 2017

Rihanna just gave a heartbroken fan the best relationship advice

The pop star took time out to give a fan this brilliant tip

by Stylist
22 Jun 2017

First Dates fans respond to “shocking” mansplaining incident

“A frightened, insecure monkey hanging on to his patriarchal perch for dear life”

by Kayleigh Dray
22 Jun 2017

Golden rules of work happiness from Europe’s female tech leaders

From nap rooms to therapists and no overtime

by Anna Brech
22 Jun 2017

Hero mum has more fun at university orientation than student daughter

“I made some friends. Don’t wait up!”

by Amy Swales
22 Jun 2017