Updated: The French Move To Protect Workers From After-Hours Email

C'est la vie.

Editor's note: The post below was immensely popular on our social networks today—clearly, this story hit a nerve with email-weary workers across America and the world. We wish to clarify some information in The Guardian report. French unions did not ban French employees from sending emails after precisely 6 p.m.—the agreement meant to protect some workers from too much after-hours work intrusion (and consequently, burnout) does not stipulate 6 p.m. as a hard stopping time for work-related emails. In addition, the agreement won't affect as many people asThe Guardian report suggested—about 200,000-250,000 workers will be affected by the rule, according to French media.

There are many ways to distance yourself from the crushing tidal wave that is your work inbox. You can, for instance, impose an email sabbatical, which is supposed to be good for your mental health. Or you can plow through all of your emails in one go with the savvy use of search filters.

Now, there's a new lifehack for dealing with email 24/7, and it might just be our favorite yet: Move to France. The Guardian reports that the country's workers unions just imposed a ban that forbids employees from attending to "work-related material on their computers or smartphones" after they clock out for the day:

Now employers' federations and unions have signed a new, legally binding labour agreement that will require staff to switch off their phones after 6pm. Under the deal, which affects a million employees in the technology and consultancy sectors (including the French arms of Google, Facebook, Deloitte and PwC), employees will also have to resist the temptation to look at work-related material on their computers or smartphones —or any other kind of malevolent intrusion into the time they have been nationally mandated to spend on whatever the French call la dolce vita.

Emphasis added. So, in addition to 35-hour work weeks, it is now frowned upon for the French workforce to tend to business once it's time to eat dinner. Germany's labor ministry has similar after-hour measures in place. Though it's unclear exactly how that will be enforced, it's a nice perk to have in any case. C'est la vie.

[Image: Flickr user Moyan Brenn]

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40 Comments

  • in the united states the news needs no facts, legal stance or whatever. all you need in the united states to produce a "news article" is to know how to be politically correct. NO ONE challenges the validity of the written or transmitted news.

    all we read or hear in the US is blah blah blah.... bla blah....

  • Brunehilde Axelle Houessou

    ARE YOU STUPID Mr. GAYOMALI ?! I am French, I am an HR specialist AND I work in a Canadian IT company based in Paris. Your stupid (sorry "ridiculous") article stinks due to your lazyness : You "write" an article without even investigating your subject ! A French Union from an IT consulting firm ASKED for a measure in order to limit out of office contacts, and this measure has not been validated ! In France, the IT consulting firms have one of the most liberal legal framework of the national market. The executive (like me) have signed contracts banning us from earning money for overtime. We are used to keep our Iphones 24/7 (provided by the company) in order to work remotely on demand. I recognize that there are lazy people in France (let's not be hypocrites) but I CAN'T ACCEPT THAT YOU ARE BULLSHITTING ON PEOPLE WORKING HARD AND DRIVING BUSINESS BY COMMITTING THEMSELVES A LOT !!! (sorry for the spell mistakes and on, my latin blood got too hot after reading your stupid article)!

  • I guess at least you updated the article. Damage is already done thought, and you're hurting French businesses working their asses off. Have you thought about that before hitting publish?

  • Guillaume Corradino

    It is a bit simplistic don' t you think? In most companies people just have to do the work, whether it is in 35h (pretty rare in practice), 40, 60h or more. When legal labor time is reduced, employees simply have to deliver the same work in less time (hence actually gaining productivity)....

  • That this article is still online because it has been "immensely popular on our social networks" is the ultimate proof that buzz has become more important than facts. Journalism is dead.

  • Guardian report is making generality of a law impacting a specific kind of IT contracts. People paid on a day basis. Most of french people are working on a 38 hours basis. So comon don't voice this stupid report..

    Only 200 000 people in France are working with those kind of contracts and they work more than 60 hours a week so seriously..

  • Really funny... but untrue...! Even if it would be great sometimes to disconnect from our work a little bit... but it still allowed to answer all the night long and also the week-end too.. It's beautiful to dream...!

  • Evan Susser

    Why keep this article up on your site when you have a disclaimer that says it basically is all untrue?

    I mean, come on.....

  • This article is so wrong on many aspects, it is not even worth commenting. It is however sad that FastCompany joins the bandwagon of French bashing, thinking it is either fun or informative for the rest of the world. Office burnout is an important issue and topic. Bridging it with a French discussion you neither researched nor understood is a poor and lazzy angle to choose.

  • Kamaraj Retnasami

    You are boring! Try to find the humor and fun in it. It's a great article.

  • Daniel Miguéis

    "whatever the French call la dolce vita" .... seriously?!? At least the Guardian's article had some laughable british humor with correct french expressions...

  • Benoit Guin

    Chris, Next time you post an article full of mistakes like this one, please make sure it's April 1. I just want to make sure that you will look funny instead of unprofessional. I love ready Fast Company and I can't imagine that the editor is letting you write that crap without double checking. Good luck in your new job!