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Monday, April 14, 2014

In France, a Move to Limit Off-the-Clock Work Emails

Today's post was shared by Steven Greenhouse and comes from "On-Call Status" and responding to off-hours electronic communication will expend the coverage of workers' compensation will otherwise expand to a 24/7 insurance policy.

PARIS — Given France’s 35-hour workweek, generous vacations and persistent, if not altogether accurate, reputation for indolence, it may come as a surprise that the French are only now considering limits on the work emails and phone calls that come at all hours of the day and night.
Labor unions and corporate representatives in France have agreed on an “obligation to disconnect from remote communications tools” that would apply to 250,000 employees of consulting, computing and polling firms. The accord, signed this month but yet to be approved by the Labor Ministry, would require that employers verify that the 11 hours of daily “rest” time to which all workers are legally entitled be spent uninterrupted.
“We really want there to be 11 consecutive hours,” said Marie Buard, a project leader at the Federation of Communication, Consulting and Culture, a branch of the French Democratic Confederation of Labor. Still, Ms. Buard said, “We also wouldn’t like this to squeeze businesses and cause them problems.”
Under the agreement, she said, each company would develop a policy and enforcement mechanisms. One might choose to block communications from 11 p.m. to 10 a.m. by shutting down its email servers, while another might simply ask employees not to check email between 9 p.m. and 8 a.m.
Similar limits have been tested elsewhere. In 2011, Volkswagen started shutting off its BlackBerry servers at the end of the workday,...
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