France has made a major change for the new year. As of January 1, French workers are allowed to ignore emails that arrive after business hours.
If you’re anything like me, you may have one or more of the following thoughts running through your head right now: They have to be allowed? Before they were allowed, did they have to check them? Do I have to check emails after work hours? Do I choose to check emails after work hours? Would I like a law like this?
This new labor law affects all French companies with 50 or more employees. It was passed to ensure employees the right to a work-life balance. Some companies have even started to shut down their email systems overnight to enforce the rule.
Although a 2014 Gallup poll showed almost 80 percent of workers see a benefit to working remotely after hours, the same capability often leads to feelings of overwhelm. A second Gallup poll found that employees who work outside of the office or outside of their set hours are more likely to “experience a substantial amount of stress.” In fact, working constantly without a true break from the work inhibits an employee’s ability to process and problem-solve, one take on the matter says.
“When you have a stressed workforce, you are going to have differences in health — the actual physical health of your employees and you are going to be able to understand how it affects retention,” the researcher says. “It manifests itself in a lot of ways that are not good for the worker or the organization employing them.”
If you had some of the same initial reactions as I did, this additional information doesn’t come as a surprise. It sounds like France is ahead of the game in valuing its workers and their work-life balance.
If you feel like you need a better work-life balance, now is the perfect time to start unplugging in your own way. Need to be convinced? Check out the perks of unplugging. If you do need to stay connected to your work during non-business hours, try some of these tips to invite peace into your life.
What do you think of France’s new labor law? — Megan