French rise up against work emails

French Minister of Labour Myriam El Khomri. Photo / Getty Images
French Minister of Labour Myriam El Khomri. Photo / Getty Images

Liberty, equality, fraternity - and now, the "right to disconnect".

Among a host of new reforms designed to loosen the more stringent regulations in the country's labour market, France's Labour Minister, Myriam El Khomri, is including a provision that would give employees the right to ignore professional emails and other messages when outside the office. It would essentially codify a division between work and home, and, on a deeper level, between public and private life.

El Khomri apparently fleeced this idea from a report by Bruno Mettling, a director general in charge of human resources at Orange, the telecommunications giant. Mettling believes this policy would benefit employers as much as their employees, whom, he has said, are likely to suffer "psychosocial risks" from a ceaseless communication cycle. As reported in Le Monde, a recent study found than approximately 3.2 million French workers are at risk of "burning out", defined as a combination of physical exhaustion and emotional anxiety. Although France is famous for its 35-hour workweek, many firms skirt the rules - often through employees who continue working remotely long after they leave for the day.

The "right to disconnect" would enshrine labour protections in a changed working environment, in which technology - especially smartphones and other devices - have become indispensable.

And as Mettling told Europe1 Radio: "Professionals who find the right balance between private and work life perform far better in their job than those who arrive shattered."

- Washington Post - Bloomberg

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