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Inbox is out: French won't be checking mails outside office hours

Time to hone your French-speaking skills. A new agreement signed in France includes an "obligation to disconnect distance communication tools" including smartphones, computers, emails after working hours.

world Updated: Apr 11, 2014 13:55 IST
Noopur Tiwari

A new deal signed in France after year long negotiations between companies and workers unions includes an "obligation to disconnect distance communication tools" meaning smartphones, computers, emails will be cut off outside work hours so that employees can rest. Expecting an employee to stay connected to work round the clockwill be illegal under this contract as switching off gets a big thumbs up. The idea is to give workers not just a physical but also a psychological break from work.

The agreement covers more than 1200 major engineering and consultancy firms, including French arms of Google, Facebook and also Tata Consultancy Services. The deal was signed between two employers’ federations (CINOV and Syntec) and two workers’ unions (CFDT and CGC). Marie BUARD of the CFDT told HT that companies will decide how this switching off will be organised. She said 812,900 workers are covered under this agreement that makes it obligatory for workers to get a minimum of 11 hours of rest everyday in addition to getting weekends off. The maximum number of working days in a year is set at 218 days.

France adopted a 35-hour week in the year 2000. The “lazy” myth haunts French workers who do the least number of working hours but remain one of the most productive in the world. The French work 25% less than Asians and 16% less than other developed nations. A study done by the UBS in 2009 showed that the French workers put in 339 hours less than their American counterparts but were slightly more productive by $0.50 on a per hour basis.

Last week, the German labour ministry also banned out of working hours emails, phone calls etc to prevent worker burn out. In Germany, Volkswagen servers are paused from 6.15pm until 7am in the morning since 2011.