That is correct: For companies with 50+ employees operating in France, the entities must now define a set of hours when employees are not allowed to send any e-mails.
The legislation, which is part of an omnibus law titled “The Adaptation of Work Rights to the Digital Era,” also stipulates that employees are barred from interacting with work e-mail communications on holidays and on weekends.
To me, this seems like an issue worthy of consideration that’s been taken to an extreme – using a heavy-handed blunt force object when perhaps a scalpel is what’s really required.
Let’s first acknowledge that the French legislation is borne out of real concerns. Few in the business world would argue that the pervasiveness of work-related e-mails has a big downside as it’s crept steadily into every aspect of life.
Stress, fatigue, burnout. Call it what you will — there’s little doubt that for many people, life in the 24/7 business lane has become distinctly unappealing.
The American Psychological Association cites a litany of problems that go beyond just stress and fatigue, too. It counts high blood pressure, depression, and even elevated cholesterol levels as among the collateral damage of the “always on” business culture.
People’s online behaviors aren’t helping matters, either. Consumer research routinely shows that ~80% of smartphone users check their devices within 15 minutes of waking up. A similar percentage keep their devices with them at least 22 hours a day or longer.
Clearly, we’re doing it to ourselves as much as any dictates coming from “The Man.”
But like so much else in the realm of social engineering, these new French regulations seem set to result in all sort of unintended consequences.
What about global companies that engage with personnel across a myriad of time zones? Are those organizations supposed to shut down mission-critical functions when France is “off limits” – jeopardizing the timely transaction of their business activities?
More likely, it will be their French business operations that shut down, rather than the rest of the world sucking it up and catering to the French regulations.
As one MediaPost reader commented after reading about the new law:
“Maybe the Dumbest. Law. Ever. Yet.
If you’re in France working, but your customer is in the U.S., how in the world are you supposed to communicate? Stay up late and have a phone call with them instead? Talk about turning people into criminals for no reason.”
Which bring up another point. From Prohibition then to zoning provisions today, “dumb” laws just encourage people to break them.
I can’t see this legislation being a long-term success – but you might disagree. Please share your perspectives with other readers here.