No work emails after 6 p.m. becomes law for some in France

A finger points at smartphones on December 25, 2013 in Dinan, northwestern France. PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images

TORONTO – Most Canadians can only imagine having five weeks minimum vacation per year and a 35-hour work week. Yet, this is the standard in France, and apparently it’s not good enough for some.

With after-hours work emails cutting into employees’ downtime, unions have been fighting for a law to put an end to it. And it’s now a legally-binding agreement for about a million employees.

Geared towards France’s tech industry, which includes divisions of Google and Facebook, the agreement allows staff to shut down their phones and computers after 6 p.m. and not have to worry about checking in.

Part of the deal is that companies can’t pressure or make their employees feel bad about not checking or responding to their email either.

How this will play out, only time will tell. The introduction of the 35-hour work week in 1999 was meant to help reduce unemployment. While the people embraced it, France’s current unemployment rate sits at 10.2 per cent — steep compared to Canada’s 6.9 per cent in March.

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