The 'right to disconnect'

How do you deal with ‘out of hours’ emails? What do you expect your employees to do?

In France employees are getting the legal right to avoid work emails outside working hours as a new French law, which has been dubbed the "right to disconnect", comes into force on 1 January. Companies with more than 50 workers will be obliged to draw up a charter of good conduct, setting out the hours when staff are not supposed to send or answer emails.

France has a working week of 35 hours, in place since 2000, compared to our 48 hours but, according to research in France, Managers who worked at home between 8pm and midnight rose from a third to 52% in just 10 years.

Supporters of the new law say that employees who are expected to check and reply to their work emails out of hours are not being paid fairly for their overtime, and that the practice carries a risk of stress, burnout, sleep problems and relationship difficulties.

Although professionals who find the right balance between work and leisure perform better in their jobs, the country's economic crisis has made many employees afraid of losing their jobs and they work longer hours inside and outside the office as a result.

Perhaps not surprisingly, it was the only one of a set of labour laws introduced in May that did not generate widespread protest and strikes. The others made it easier for firms to hire and fire employees.

You could try this

A novel approach to the problem was taken in 2014 when the German vehicle-maker Daimler set up an optional service for workers going on holiday; instead of sending an out-of-office reply, they could opt to have all new emails automatically deleted while they were away!

If you would like help or advice on establishing appropriate policies for your company, Charlton Associates can help.


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