We’re living in an “always on” society. We’re always doing something, we’re always connected, we’re always right by our phones (and reaching it more than we should). Whether it’s a call from your boss asking if you can come in on your day off or an email from an important client on the weekend, we’re never fully disconnected from our work, are we?
A new law is attempting to help French workers relax outside of work, giving them the “right to disconnect.”
What does the law mean for workers?
Under this new law, French companies are instructed to talk with workers about how they’d like to be contacted outside of the office and during non-work hours (if they’re ok with being contacted at all). The two sides, employers and employees, must come to an agreement. In many cases, both with will make small sacrifices.
But notice our use of the word “instructed” here, it does not “require” companies to oblige with the law.
Although there’s no requirement for companies to comply with the law and no penalties to pay, the price they pay will come from word-of-mouth. When word spreads that they’re not working with their employees to help them balance their work life and home life, that’s a nod to what type of company they are. It risks becoming a company that others may not want to work for or support.
What happens if they can’t come to an agreement?
For the companies that do choose to follow the “right to disconnect” law, what happens if an agreement cannot be reached between employer and employee? Then a contract will be created that sets forward a list of demands and rights of the employee after work hours.
How would the US handle law like this?
My guess, is that not much would change. Here in the US we have a different perspective on work—we tend to allow work to become our life. Most of us don’t mean to, most of us don’t particularly want to, but it happens.
We don’t want to miss out, and we want to please everyone. We’ll go away on vacation and our customers and clients barely notice because we’re still taking phone calls. We’re still promptly replying to emails, even though most emails don’t require immediate attention.
But too much work is leading to too much stress!
There’s only so much that we can handle, and yes, mindfulness and meditation while working can help. But we still need time to step away, and mindfully choose to focus on things like our family and ourselves!
I think most of us believe we’d like a law like this. We think it’d be helpful and reduce stress in our lives, but in reality, we’d probably end up working anyways.
What do you think? If you had the option to tell your employers when you prefer not to be contacted about work, would you take advantage of it?