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Work Emails After Hours Finally Banned in France (fortune.com) 234

An anonymous reader quotes Fortune: A new French law establishing workers' "right to disconnect" goes into effect today. The law requires companies with more than 50 employees to establish hours when staff should not send or answer emails. The goals of the law include making sure employees are fairly paid for work, and preventing burnout by protecting private time. French legislator Benoit Hamon, speaking to the BBC, described the law as an answer to the travails of employees who "leave the office, but they do not leave their work. They remain attached by a kind of electronic leash -- like a dog."
The BBC reports that France already has a 35-hour work week, while Fortune adds that many European companies have already taken steps to curtail after-work emails. "In 2012, Volkswagen blocked all emails to employees' Blackberries after-hours," and "Daimler took the step of deleting all emails received by employees while on vacation."
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Work Emails After Hours Finally Banned in France

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    It starts with vacation emails, next they'll be deleting first posts. Who would want to live in a world like that?

  • by waspleg ( 316038 ) on Sunday January 01, 2017 @06:39PM (#53590043) Journal

    along with that 35 hour work week - without a pay reduction.

    I'm hourly and required to carry a work cellphone 24/7 despite not being paid to do so in any way (money/comp time/whatever).

    But the demonization of unions by big corporate money has been very successful in fucking shit like this up for the US.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Tablizer ( 95088 )

      But the demonization of unions by big corporate money has been very successful in fucking shit like this up for the US.

      Well, it's a trade-off. In the US it's easier to have more and bigger "stuff", but we work harder and longer for it, not always by choice.

      • by waspleg ( 316038 )

        I'm aware of a great many people who are working longer and harder just to keep their head above water living paycheck to paycheck with nothing to show for it despite this supposedly super low unemployment rate and great economic recovery (with stagnant wages).

        You might be right though, I know nothing about how "more and bigger stuff" translates overseas.

        • But without a good solid education, moving to new jobs becomes hard. So if the local job dries up how do you get a new one if you don't have a decent education? No employer wants to pay for on-the-job training, especially for someone that was a C student in high school. This makes the schools fundamentally important to having a good economy with low unemployment.

          • by schnell ( 163007 )

            But without a good solid education, moving to new jobs becomes hard. So if the local job dries up how do you get a new one if you don't have a decent education?

            Here's the problem. The issue with jobs in the US today is not about education per se, but about fungibility [wikipedia.org] of jobs.

            A "fungible" job, or item, is one that can be exchanged equally at no loss or differentiation. (A US dollar bill is fungible, for example, because any dollar bill is equal to any other regardless of its source, condition or owner.) If one mechanical piece or the person who produces those pieces can be swapped out without any loss of productivity or quality then it is fungible. And as such it

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 01, 2017 @07:08PM (#53590155)

      So you want to earn the same money for fewer hours? In what world is that fair to your employer?

      Don't want to carry the work phone, don't. If they fire you find a job with an employer that doesn't require it.
      A couple years back I was told I could no longer work from home (company was purchased, new policy). Okay but I work 7:30 to 4:30. I do not check email after that time and will attend one evening meeting a week. Given I'm part of a team that is spread overseas that did actually matter and I work less now. Didn't get fired and am still working 7:30 to 4:30.

      This is not something that requires laws. If you do not want to be tied to your work phone at all hours, don't do it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        So you want to earn the same money for fewer hours? In what world is that fair to your employer?

        In the same one that says anything over 40 hours is overtime? At some level we've come to realize that we should work to live, not live to work. So if we decide that 35 hours is a reasonable upper limit on hours, even possible to the point of removing the option of overtime, so be it. With all the discussion of increased automation, we shouldn't be making moves towards greater overtime and yet that seems the m

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      If you understood how life actually is in France... US salaries for technical fields are nearly double those in France, for one. Having lived and worked in both, I'd caution you to not fetishize the European lifestyle... one's not better than the other, they're just different, based on very different cultures.

      There's a good book some years back from some Canadian journalists who lived in France for a while... the main point being, since the US/Canadian and French demographics are relatively similar, both i

      • The book is called "Sixty Million Frenchmen Can't Be Wrong". It is a funny read but also has many flaws (wrong informations), but those flaws don't really matter, it is entertaining and to show the differences in culture it is pretty good.

      • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

        If you understood how life actually is in France... US salaries for technical fields are nearly double those in France, for one.

        On the flip side, the only reason Bay Area housing costs are so unreasonable is that salaries are nearly double those in France. :-)

    • I disagree (Score:4, Interesting)

      by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Sunday January 01, 2017 @07:29PM (#53590233)

      I'm hourly and required to carry a work cellphone 24/7 despite not being paid to do so in any way

      Can you really not find other work? That seems unlikely for a technical worker these days. To put up with 24/7 duty with no extra pay is not something you should put up with. You should demand extra compensation, or leave.

      Sorely needed in the US...along with that 35 hour work week

      I disagree. When I was younger I worked 50-80 hour (or longer) weeks. But the thing is, I enjoyed it, a lot. More than that it set up a great base for a career to follow, because I had essentially got an extra year or two of experience over people who worked "regular" hours, indeed probably 2x the experience over people who worked 35 hour weeks...

      It's not like i never take time for vacation, then or now (sometimes a lot). But I don't think there is any value mandating a cap on possible work, I feel like that is the best way to ruin and country and economy and frankly, a whole generation of people.

    • by youngone ( 975102 ) on Sunday January 01, 2017 @07:34PM (#53590253)
      The demonization of the Unions has been hugely successful where I live also, begun largely by a small number of influential journalists in the 1980s.

      The factory workers where I work stayed united and never lost any of their benefits. The non-union office people moan and whinge about all the "perks" they get, I say good on them.

      Company profit last year? Approx $16 billion.

    • That's pretty much what this amounts to.

      There are, in fact, many people [like me] that enjoy working. My hobby is to casually log in and do some work. You're trying to outlaw my hobby...so, ummm, fuck you?

    • For me, I can't get up to productivity early. Too many people asking too many questions, too many meetings, too much email. In late afternoon I pick up and start getting stuff done. Now as a manager it's even worse. My enemy is me, saying in the morning "I'll just get this one simple 15 minute project done today" and it turns out I can't get to it. Now for a simpler job where there are simple tasks and you're paid by the hour, then sure, put a time limit on it. I'm more interested in flexible work hou

  • France already has very strong labor-protection laws. Nobody could be sanctioned because they didn't answer e-mail's while off the clock. This law is illogical, why stop people that want to work off-hours? Personally I often find it more satisfying to do some off-the-clock work then watch TV when I'm bored
    • by waspleg ( 316038 ) on Sunday January 01, 2017 @06:52PM (#53590089) Journal

      The problem is it becomes expected that you be working/in touch 24/7.

      • Re:More time for TV (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 01, 2017 @08:09PM (#53590399)

        The problem is it becomes expected that you be working/in touch 24/7.

        That happened to a friend of mine. HIs employer kept calling him out at all hours of the night so we just told him to ask to be paid to be on call. He came back and told us the answer was, 'sorry, no budget for that'. So we advised him that since his wife was giving him a hard time and he was thinking about quitting over this anyway he should just shut his work phone off when he left the office. It took about a week before there was a major emergency and the shit hit the fan. Hours upon hours of downtime, the upper management started riding lower management about what the fuck had happened. He gets called into a meeting with management and he tells them 'pas d'argent pas du Suiss' I'm not on call so I figured it's only fair to shut off the work phone. Next thing you know there is alluvasudden money in the departmental budget for keeping him on call. So come end of the month he checks his pay-slip, no pay for being on call so he goes and asks payroll what's wrong and they send him to the department head. It seems when they said that they had found money in the budget to pay him for being on call, what they meant to say, it was as of the following quarter but of course they expected him to be on call until then, sans pay. So he turns off his work phone again after work hours, shit hits the fan *again* and he finally gets his on-call money, paid retroactively. Give an employer an finger and they will devour your entire arm.

        • This is a good anecdote that shows not only that a company can and will take advantage of you, but also just how much power an employee really has even if it doesn't seem like they have much. The thing is that it takes a long time to find a good employee to hire in, longer still to train them as a replacement for most work... if you are being told to do something you do not think as fair, don't do it or demand compensation. Most middle managers will fold.

    • by SirSlud ( 67381 )

      If you like doing off-the-clock work, great. Not sure what that has to do with labor laws, tho.

      • by pla ( 258480 )
        If you like doing off-the-clock work, great. Not sure what that has to do with labor laws, tho.

        In the US, if you are hourly, you cannot legally work "off the clock". Ever. Period. Not even answering emails on a work-issued phone. Those saying they do that would get their employer completely screwed if they complained to the DoL.

        Now, if you're salaried... "Off the clock" doesn't really exist, so feel free to act like a slave... But fuck you if you think I'm responding to your "look at what a good li
    • I think the law isn't forbidding employees from reading the email, but in forbidding companies from requiring it.

    • by dbIII ( 701233 )
      It's for those things like people getting fired for not answering an email on a Saturday night.
  • Why do you insist on linking to older versions of your own stories which provide no new information or no -redundant context?

    So this law takes effect, and employers are now required to set hours "when staff should not send or answer emails". Is there anything preventing the employers from declaring those hours to be 1:00am - 6:00am?

  • You can probably ban all forms of technological communication between employer and employee after work, but can you prohibit absolutely all forms of contact outside of work hours if the purpose happens to be work-related?

    Generally speaking, it is not illegal to require employees that are not telecommuting to live in a certain geographical area, so it may often be entirely possible for an employer to bypass this prohibition on emails by just physically showing up at the employee's door and talking to him

  • I'm OK with this, which is probably going to get me labeled a lazy French socialist. (I'm in the US.) But, I've worked jobs where I've had to be available 24/7 on an on-call rotation basis. Weeks where I've had to do this sucked badly. It was earlier in my career pre-kids, but the feeling is exactly like having a newborn at home in terms of the sleep quality you get. You're never fully asleep after being woken up at 3 AM for yet another false alarm (or real emergency!) And, I was lucky it was rotation work

  • by raind ( 174356 )
    Gross Domestic Happiness - let's Evolve....

If money can't buy happiness, I guess you'll just have to rent it.

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