Business

In France it is Illegal to Contact an Employee After Work

In an ideal world, we all work from Monday to Friday with a set of pre-defined working hours. In a world where we are constantly connected to our devices, communication never really stops, and we are consistently receiving information, extending beyond the standard working hours.

Imagine sitting at home enjoying dinner with your family, then an important email comes in or you receive a message on Facebook which immediately consumes your entire attention, leading you to switch on your laptop for a couple of hours to ensure that the issue is resolved. Before you know it, it is 01.00 am and you are heading over to bed with your mind still swirling, knowing that you will wake up tired the next morning before you even get some shut-eye! I am sure that most of you will relate.

Obviously, the pressure of not meeting the expected standards will not help and this makes people more inclined to ensure that such work-related issues are addressed expediently, even if it means sacrificing personal and family time.

With that said, a new trend may be developing. In France, any company with more than fifty employees will need to negotiate terms to contact staff outside of the standard working hours. This legislation also gives power to employees as it provides them with the right to ignore their company phones in the evening. One still needs to see how this will work as not all employers will appreciate having their employees ignoring their phone calls. This could also create discrimination as companies can easily keep track of those employees who are available after work hours versus those who are not.

It seems to become quite clear that employers are becoming much more demanding with the line between work and personal life becoming blurred. It is also interesting to see how such legislation will impact telecommuting policies. How do parents who prefer to work in the evenings cope if they will need to pick up their children from school in the afternoon?

The link between stress and work is practically undeniable however research finds that working for an extended period of time, over and above the standard working hours, is correlated with depression, anxiety and irritability. Considering that all which is required to get back to work is a simple tap of a screen, we are more at risk of such mental health problems.

Would the common wide adoption of such legislation change the working world as we know it? Are we taking a turn towards a lifestyle in which work-life balance is taken extremely seriously?

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