The Right to Disconnect

By on December 21, 2018

Executive Summary of an article written by
Julien Haure and Marine Hamon, Mayer Brown

Since January 2017, companies in France have been under the legal obligation to comply with the “right to disconnect,” according to which employees are entitled to remain unavailable outside their working time. The law is meant to enhance protection of a work-life balance. No penalties are incurred by the employer who fails to comply, but employees who challenge their working arrangement in a company where specific measures on the right to disconnect have not been implemented could use it to justify a “burnout” situation and related claims for damages.

In the banking sector, many collective agreements have been entered into with union representatives, according to which employees are under no obligation to respond to emails outside their working hours. In the insurance sector, some companies simply invite employees to ponder the right moment to send an email or call a fellow employee. In some tech companies, employees who connect to their professional email address or to the intranet receive an automatic email to inform them that they are about to enter a “resting time period.”

The right to disconnect caused more fear than harm. It does not require much from employers and has little impact on the way French employees work. Rather than pushing companies to disconnect all devices as of 6 p.m. every day, it encourages companies to enhance and promote a different type of management and work organization that should be of benefit to all.

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