French workers win right to avoid checking work emails out-of-hours

French companies will be required to guarantee a "right to disconnect" to their employees from tomorrow as the country seeks to tackle the modern-day scourge of compulsive out-of-hours email checking.

French workers win right to avoid checking work emails out-of-hours

French companies will be required to guarantee a "right to disconnect" to their employees from tomorrow as the country seeks to tackle the modern-day scourge of compulsive out-of-hours email checking.

On 1 January, an employment law will enter into force that obliges organisations with more than 50 workers to start negotiations to define the rights of employees to ignore their smartphones.

Overuse of digital devices has been blamed for everything from burnout to sleeplessness as well as relationship problems, with many employees uncertain of when they can switch off.


The French measure is intended to tackle the so-called "always-on" work culture that has led to a surge in usually unpaid overtime - while also giving employees flexibility to work from outside the office.

“There’s a real expectation that companies will seize on the ‘right to disconnect’ as a protective measure,” said Xavier Zunigo, a French workplace expert, as a new survey on the subject was published in October.


“At the same time, workers don’t want to lose the autonomy and flexibility that digital devices give them,” added Zunigo, who is an academic and director of research group Aristat.

“There’s a real expectation that companies will seize on the ‘right to disconnect’ as a protective measure,” said Xavier Zunigo, a French workplace expert, as a new survey on the subject was published in October.

“At the same time, workers don’t want to lose the autonomy and flexibility that digital devices give them,” added Zunigo, who is an academic and director of research group Aristat.