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Dublin: 8°C Thursday 25 February 2021

No emails please, we're French: France lets people stop checking work email after 6pm

No, seriously.

Image: Phone via Shutterstock

ANYONE WHO HAS ever had to write back to work emails late at night might want to quell their feelings of jealousy right about now.

A ground-breaking labour agreement in France means that staff at some of the biggest companies in the country no longer have to check work emails after 6pm – but only if they’re at risk of burnout.

The agreement with the trade union which represents workers in the technology and consultancy sectors – including the French arms of Google, Facebook and Deloitte –  was brought in after the unions were unhappy that members were dealing with work issues during their time off.

France is the only country in the world to have a 35-hour working week enshrined into law, and employee groups have fought hard to protect it since its introduction in 1999.

However the encroachment of smartphones means that more and more workers found themselves dealing with work during the hours when they were supposed to be free.

The new labour agreement which is legally binding means that employees who are at risk of burnout have a right to disconnect and not look at work-related material on their computers or smartphones after 6pm, and companies must ensure that workers are not pressured in any way to do so.

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The 35-hour week is, understandably, extremely popular among French citizens. It was introduced to reduce unemployment, with the expectation that companies would create more jobs to fill the extra hours.

What do you think? Should workers be able to stop checking their emails once their workday has ended? Or is it now part of the job and should just be expected? 

Read: Average employee spends 56 minutes of working day on social media sites > 

Read: 12 people who know it’s Friday and don’t care anymore > 

About the author:

Christine Bohan

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