2017 not only brought the promise of a new year, it also brought a new law in France that gives workers the “right to disconnect.” Beginning January 1, 2017, companies in France who have 50 or more employees now must negotiate the terms of sending work emails after hours and set forth the rights of employees to ignore such communication.
Once those terms are set forth, an employer can not punish an employee for ignoring work emails after hours. Workers have the right to disconnect and ignore emails from employers when they’re not on the job after a designated hour.
Whether you’re eating dinner at a cafe, at your child’s school play, or just relaxing at home, you can turn off your phone and know that your boss can’t require you to check in and read email messages. You can truly relax and focus on your life outside of work, recharging your mind so you can focus better once you get back to work. Your home life and your work life can finally regain balance
At least that’s the idea behind the new law…
This video shows from Time how the new law works:
Questions to Ponder
But will this new law really make a difference? Will companies abide by the law? Will they set reasonable work hours and respect workers who ignore after-hours communication?
No penalty has been set for companies that do not comply with this new law.
Will workers trust that there will be no repercussions or retribution from employers whose communications are ignored after work hours? Will workers have more stress if they don’t check their emails, wondering what they’re missing? Will they wonder whether career decisions are being made based on workers’ availability when they’re “off the clock”?
Would you like this law to come into effect in your country? Would you be more willing to work for a company that didn’t penalize workers for ignoring after-hours communications? Would you enjoy the freedom of being able to turn off your phone without wondering whether work was trying to reach you?
In Praise of Focus
Companies that either abide by the law in France or adopt the “right to disconnect” on their own may reap the benefits of greater worker productivity. They may find that workers are more engaged and focused at work when they have been disconnected after hours and return to work more refreshed. In other words, companies might find that they get more work out of their workers when they work better, not longer.
According to 2015 data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the most productive country in the world that year was Luxembourg, with an average workweek of 29 hours.
The least productive country, of the 35 countries studied by the OECD, was the country that had the longest workweek — Mexico, with an average workweek of 41.2 hours. Other hard-working countries ranked low on the list, such as Korea with a 40.7 hour workweek and Chile with a 38.2 hour workweek.
Turning off the phone may give us a better ability to focus. A study by Microsoft showed that our ability to concentrate for long periods of time is diminishing and that “digital lifestyles have a negative impact on prolonged focus.”
By reducing a person’s need to use technology to communicate with work after hours, companies may be able to increase productivity, making everyone pleased.
Are you in favor of the “right to disconnect” law in France? Vote in the Wonder of Tech poll to give your opinion:
What do you think of France’s right to disconnect law? Do you think companies will abide by it? Do you think workers will have confidence enough to disregard work communications after hours? Will you be moving to France?
Share your thoughts in the Comments section below!
* iPhone Coffee image courtesy of Bino Storyteller via Unsplash and Creative Commons
** France Glasses image courtesy of Ross Websdale via Flickr and Creative Commons
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