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France tells employees to stop checking their work-related emails after hours

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If you’re in a job where you knock off at six o’clock only for your boss to ramp up your stress levels by bombarding you with emails pretty much till your head hits the hay, then you might want to consider moving to France.

In an effort to improve French citizens’ work-life balance, employers’ federations and unions in the European nation have signed a legally-binding labor agreement requiring workers to ignore emails from bosses if they’re received outside of their usual working hours.

The new deal covers many employees in the technology and consultancy sectors, with France-based workers at Facebook and Google among them.

And before you start thinking that bosses will simply switch to messaging apps, call up their employees, or contact them in other ways, the agreement stipulates that they, too, should lay off the handsets and refrain from pressuring their workers into being available after hours.

Michel de La Force, chairman of the General Confederation of Managers, said that emails from employers should be sent only in “exceptional circumstances,” adding, “We must always come back to what is normal, which is to unplug, to stop being permanently at work.”

The new agreement comes into force 15 years after France passed a law preventing its citizens from working more than 35 hours a week. But the realities of the digital age and the proliferation of smartphone ownership in recent years has placed greater expectation on employees to be always at the ready when it comes to job-related issues.

Despite this latest development, ignoring after-hours work communications from the office may be easier said than done, with the temptation to check all incoming messages proving too much for many employees.

How do you like the sound of France’s new agreement? Do you think it’ll prove effective? Or is it the nature of most jobs these days – with the rise of our 24-hour, global culture where many businesses span continents – that we have to be connected at all times when it comes to being part of a successful business?

Have your say in the comments below.

[via Guardian] [Image: wavebreakmedia / Shutterstock]

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Trevor Mogg
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