What do you do when an email or call comes in after work hours? Do you answer — because it's your responsibility — or ignore — because you're off the clock? A French lawmaker wants to make that decision a little easier for the country's workforce.
Myriam El Khomri, the minister of labor recently appointed by President François Hollande, has been preparing a proposal that would legally clarify people are allowed to disconnect when they're not working, the Local reported Monday. The law could decrease chances of burnout by letting employees take true breaks from their jobs, Bruno Mettling, the director general of cell phone company Orange, told Europe 1 last year.
"Digital is an opportunity to transform and improve work life. But like any major change, there are risks ... one of the biggest risks is the balance of personal and working life as related to this constant connectivity," Mettling said in French. "No employee should criticized for not having been here after work hours."
The idea of the right to disconnect came up after the government received a report Jan. 25 detailing certain principles the labor ministry should adopt to protect the people from burning out, according to RTL. But it's been a hot topic in France, which has a 35-hour work week, for more than a year. In 2014, a labor union signed an agreement enabling certain contract employees to switch off their devices after long shifts.
Not everyone agrees with the concept. Stress researcher Yves Lasfargue told Changer le travail he thought the restrictions on after-work communications should be implemented in each company individually.
"No coercive regulation could apply because what is applicable in a business is not applicable in another," Lasfargue said in French. "The needs of employees are different and the concept of individual comfort has become very important. For some, comfort is also able to read emails on Sunday evening to prepare for Monday morning."
The Local reported that El Khomri would debut her law "in the coming weeks."