In 2014, the German labor ministry banned managers from calling or emailing staffers after close of business, except in an emergency
It’s for your own good, labor officials say
How many times have you come home on a Friday night after a long week of work, only for your boss to email you with a request for Monday that can’t wait until Monday? In America, you have to do what the big guy says—but if you live in France, you can politely tell him to screw off. French officials have just enacted a new labor law that bans companies with 50 employees or more from contacting employees outside of normal office hours.
In order to comply with the law, consultants recommend that workers stop hitting “reply all” to reduce off-hour emails, and implementing pre-arranged times when employees aren’t expected to answer messages, such as between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m., according to a report in The New York Times.
The law was introduced by French labor minister Myriam El Khomri, who commissioned a study analyzing the impact of “info-obesity” on a worker’s health. “Info-obesity” is just a fancy-sounding term French people coined to describe what we know and hate here in America as “burnout.”
“Employees are more and more connected during hours outside of the office,” El Khomri said in 2016. “The boundary between professional and personal life has become tenuous.”
Science backs her up. In 2015, researchers from Harvard and Stanford found that overworking can lead to life-threatening conditions like hypertension and cardiovascular diseases. Another study from Colorado University found that even just anticipating after-hours emails could have a negative effect on your well-being—more proof that email will one day kill us all.
France isn’t the first country to experiment with such initiatives. In Germany, Volkswagen has blocked all emails to employees’ devices after business hours, and Daimler has experimented with deleting all emails received by employees while on vacation. In 2014, the German labor ministry banned managers from calling or emailing staffers after close of business, except in an emergency. Let’s hope someone on Capitol Hill is taking notes.