French Law: The Right to Disconnect

WHAT IT IS

  • The concept was introduced by labor minister Myriam El Khomri in 2015 as a warning to address the health impact that “information obesity” has on people
  • Effective January 1, 2017 the law obliges companies to negotiate and define the technological expectations of employees outside of work hours
  • If an agreement between the company and employees cannot be reached, the company is required by law to publish a charter that explicitly notes the demands and rights of employees when out of office

WHY IT MATTERS

The tie between technological advancements and work-life balance is a tight one. By taking legal action, France has emphasized the importance of disconnecting and raised its level of seriousness to an impactful initiative akin to maternity leave or minimum wage. While some industries believe employees should be reachable at all times, others are actively against it. Before starting a job, it’s important to research the company’s culture so expectations can be met accordingly.

  • It’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere

    • Commitment: The Right to Disconnect levels the playing field amongst workers by setting clear boundaries and defined hours. A working mother will not feel compelled to work the same hours as a 25-year-old bachelorette, nor will either be promoted based on their level of availability
    • Overtime: Advancements in technology and the standardization of smartphones make it difficult to quantify time spent on work. Prior to the Right to Disconnect, many employees were working extreme overtime without being compensated properly
  • What’s A Workaholic?

    • Commitment: The Right to Disconnect detrimentally levels the playing field amongst workers. Employees hoping to prove their dedication to a job by working overtime could be penalized for violating company policy
    • Breadth: One size does not fit all—this is an oversimplified solution to a deeper issue. Because there isn’t a fine for disregarding the new law, companies face zero backlash if they choose to openly ignore the initiative

     

WHERE WE ARE NOW

  • The law is still relatively new, and there isn’t a great deal of concrete evidence to assess its impact on the daily life as well as the nation and its economy as a whole.

THINGS TO THINK ABOUT

  • The metaphysical aspect of this law and what it truly means to “disconnect”.
  • Would this work in America and how it would affect various industries differently?
  • The importance of family values and the expression of them in an age of technology.