New French Law Requires Companies to Regulate After-Hours Emails

Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Jan 3, 2017

A new set of French labor laws that went into effect this year requires businesses with 50 or more employees to set its own protocols for how it will handle after-hours work emails as a way to encourage better work-life balance, according to CNN Money. Companies would need to negotiate these protocols with their staff, working out things like whether or not it's reasonable to expect staff to reply to a 10 p.m. email from the office. Even if staff and management can't come to an agreement, the firm must still publish rules that define and regulate after-hours communications so workers can at least know what's expected, according to CNN Money. Called the "right to disconnect," French labor unions have been agitating for the measure for many years as a way to fight the always-on work culture that has come to characterize the modern era, according to The Guardian

While the measure was hailed as a win for the workers, it was packaged inside of a larger labor reform law that was the subject of widespread protests last spring. Aimed at cutting unemployment, the new law makes it much easier to fire people and reduces collective bargaining power, according to The Guardian. It also increases the maximum number of hours a company can ask its staff to work, from 35 to a maximum of 46 in some cases, as well as gives companies more leeway on reducing pay, according to the BBC. The law was enacted amid massive strikes that had paralyzed the country, using a special measure that allowed the French government to bypass Parliament entirely, according to Reuters

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