When Switching Off Is a Good Thing

09 February 2017

Has France got it right? Under a new law, French companies with more than 50 workers have to enter into negotiations with employees about their use of digital devices. It’s to do with employees being able to assert their right to ignore their smartphones.

Has France got it right?

Under a new law, French companies with more than 50 workers have to enter into negotiations with employees about their use of digital devices. It’s to do with employees being able to assert their right to ignore their smartphones.

Cue gasps from those whose mobiles are now permanent body parts.

But it’s serious stuff. Aside from the commonly-known (but often overlooked) problems of sleeplessness and burnout caused by using mobile devices too much, there is now this duty on French companies to guarantee the ‘right to disconnect’. It’s a positive obligation not to require staff to look at emails, and all the rest of it, at certain times while not at work.

The details are subject to agreement between employers and employees, so this should allow for the flexibility that is needed. If agreement can’t be reached, the employer will have to draw up a charter that sets out the times when employees should be truly switched off.

Everyone needs and deserves a private life, and this development in French workplaces recognises that. We’ll have to wait and see if the UK follows suit.


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