Maintaining work/life balance
Digital technology has changed everything about work – including workers’ rights, and the work-home life balance. In France, businesses and workers are committed to maintaining a literal “disconnect” between one’s professional and personal spheres.
In a draft bill recently leaked by the French newspaper, Le Parisien, the French government is proposing a new law that would give workers the “right to disconnect” from digital and mobile communications when they aren’t at work. If the bill is passed, workers will have the legal right to ignore emails, memos, and text messages from the office when their working day is done.
“Explosion of undeclared labor”
The bill is part of a larger bundle of reforms aiming to make France a business-friendly competitor in the international market, while also ensuring workers’ rights. The economy has stagnated in recent years, as many business leaders view France’s governmental regulations as meddling and burdensome.
Jean-Luc Molins, leader of the UGITC-CGT union of engineers and technical workers, said that the “law is late in comparison with corporate realities,” pointing out that smartphones have led to an “explosion of undeclared labor” performed after hours.
More efficient when disconnected
Many companies are already actively encouraging their employees to “disconnect” off the job by banning the use of work devices after hours, or shutting down their email servers overnight. Contrary to what you might expect, these companies don’t lose productivity when their workers disconnect off the job.
Director of the engineering firm ORFEA Acoustique, Frederic Lafage, says that, although it was difficult to convince workers to disconnect at first, his employees are more efficient when they are at work if they truly “disconnect” while at home.
The bill, if passed, will go into effect in July 2017.
While the disconnect rule would curb the extra hours workers are putting in at home, the bill also sought to make it easier for companies to seek exceptions to the 35 hour work week.