A new labour agreement in France means that employees must ignore their bosses’ work emails once they are out of the office and relaxing at home – even on their smartphones
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 banned bosses from bothering them once the working day is done.
Well, sort of. Après noticing that the ability of bosses to invade their employees’ home lives via smartphone at any heure of the day or night was enabling real work hours to extend further and further beyond the 35-hour week the country famously introduced in 1999, workers’ unions have been fighting back. Now employers’ federations and unions have signed a new, legally binding labour agreement that will require employers to make sure staff “disconnect” outside of working hours.
Under the deal, which affects around 250,000 employees in the technology and consultancy sectors (including the French arms of Google, Facebook, Deloitte and PwC), employees will also have to resist the temptation to look at work-related material on their computers orsmartphones – or any other kind of malevolent intrusion into the time they have been nationally mandated to spend on whatever the French call la dolce vita. And companies must ensure that their employees come under no pressure to do so. Thus the spirit of the law – and of France – as well as the letter shall be observed.
That’s right. While we poor, pallid, cowering Brits scurry about, increasingly cowed by the threat of recession-based redundancy and government measures that privilege bosses’ and shareholder comfort over workers’ rights, the continentals are clocking off. While we’re staring down the barrel of another late one/extra shift/all-nighter, across the Channel they’re sipping sancerre and contemplating at least the second half of a cinq à sept before going home to enjoy the rest of that lovely “work/133-hours-per-week-of-life” balance.
C’est all right pour some, quoi?
• This article was amended on 11 April 2014. An earlier version stated that the labour deal would affect “a million employees” and require staff “to switch off their phones after 6pm”. The deal obliges staff to “disconnect” from work calls and emails after working hours to ensure they receive the full minimum rest periods already mandated in French employment regulations but there is no particular time at which they are required to do so. While the deal was signed by unions representing 1 million employees, it will affect only 250,000 workers directly.