France Just Passed a Law That Some American Workers May Envy

May 25th 2016

There are a lot of appealing things about France: the food, the culture, and of course, mimes.

But now, there's another reason to admire France: they just passed a law making it illegal for your employer to email you on the weekends and outside of work hours, the Huffington Post reports.

"The right to disconnect"

The bill has been floating around for a while. In 2014, there were reports that France officially banned work emails after 6 p.m.; alas, those were but rumors. No such law was passed. Until now.

It's known as "The right to disconnect," and it's technically an amendment within a French labor reform bill that has spurred protests over provisions that are seen as being too favorable to employers.

However, for labor advocates, "the right to disconnect" is seen as a step toward giving French employees the workplace protections they've been demanding.

Companies that employ 50 or more people must comply with this new amendment.

Work-related stress is all too real.

"All the studies show there is far more work-related stress today than there used to be, and that the stress is constant," Benoît Hamon, French politician and Minister of National Education, 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 [sic] the life of the individual to the point where he or she eventually breaks down."

Just because you leave work for the day doesn't mean you actually leave work for the day. "At home the workspace can be the kitchen or the bathroom or the bedroom. We shift from a work email to a personal WhatsApp to a Facebook picture to a professional text - all on the same tool," Linh Le, partner at Elia Consulting, a management consulting firm in Paris, told the BBC. "You're at home but you're not at home, and that poses a real threat to relationships."

It also poses risks to your health. Job related stress can lead to physical conditions like high blood pressure, weight gain, raised cholesterol levels, and mental ones like depression and burnout, according to American Psychological Association.

Most people can't help but check their work email after hours.

A 2015 study by the Future Work Centre of London found that people who check their work email on their personal phones feel more anxious and frustrated than those who do not — quelle surprise. Despite the health risks, more than half of all Americans say they check work emails after work hours, according to a Reuters report. Employees under thirty think of it as being normal, the New York Post reports.

Reuters reported on a separate study done in 2015 that examined the role emails play in a typical office worker's life. Out of 400 American white-collar workers polled, 87 percent admitted to looking at work-related emails outside of work. Eighty percent look at emails before they get to the office, and 30 percent check emails before they even get out of bed.

Further, half of the respondents admitted to checking emails while on vacation.

[H/T Huffington Post]

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