From today, French workers now have the legal right to disconnect and ignore work emails outside of standard work hours.

A new law is forcing French companies to give their employees the right to switch off from all work-related activity.

The "right to disconnect" bill - the first of its kind in the world - forces all companies of more than 50 people to negotiate when employees can "work" outside of France's standard 35 hour week.

The Independent reported that if a deal among employer and employees could not be reached, then the firm must set out a separate initiative as directed to when the employees can engage with work-related activity outside of the workplace.

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Last year France's Labour Ministry proposed the law in a bid to "preserve the sanctity" of workers' private lives.

The overuse of the smart devices and inability to switch off has been blamed for widespread "burn out" and "sleeplessness" among employees.

French workplace expert, Xavier Zunigo, told the Independent the bill is a "protective measure".

"There's a real expectation that companies will seize on the 'right to disconnect' as a protective measure," he said.

"At the same time, workers don't want to lose the autonomy and flexibility that digital devices give them."

French labour minister Myriam El Khomri introduced the bill.

Last year El Khomri commissioned a report warning about the health impact of "info-obesity" which is said to affect many workplaces.

A study conducted last year found more than half of France's managers worked between 8pm and midnight when at home.

The new labour law is aimed at encouraging companies to prevent employees from responded to emails outside of the office and to make the French labour market more flexible.