In France, Employees Can Disconnect

EmailFrance passed a new law allowing employees the "right to disconnect" from email after their regulated 35-hour work week. French unions blame technology for causing an "explosion of undeclared labor," and we know something about this in the United States. Rather than ban after-work email, which may be impossible to achieve, the ruling requires companies to give establish new guidelines for emailing after work.

Some question whether the strategy will hurt France competitively; the country already has generous vacation and other benefits. However, the United States is notoriously behind the times with some labor laws. For example, we are the only industrialized nation without paid parental leave.

Companies have taken other steps to encourage employees to talk with each other face-to-face and to have a life outside of work. Limiting the hours when employees are expected to respond to email, discouraging email during vacations, and sending fewer of them are some common practices.

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  • What's your view of the new French law? What could be some positive and negative results?
  • Short of instituting a new federal law, what can managers do to curb email within their organizations? Consider a few strategies-starting with the top, of course