Would You Want The ‘Right To Disconnect’ From Work?

Would You Want The ‘Right To Disconnect’ From Work?
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French workers now have the “right to disconnect”, or more appropriately, a new law instructs companies to ask workers on how they can — if at all — be contacted outside of the office or during non-work hours. Would you want that right for yourself?

Photo by Rawpixel.com (Shutterstock).

Of course, the law sounds great, but not everyone has the same cultural approach to work-life balance as the French do. From the PayScale piece linked below:

“Under the new law, companies will be obliged to negotiate with employees to agree on their rights to switch off and ways they can reduce the intrusion of work into their private lives,” writes the Agence France-Presse at The Guardian. “If a deal cannot be reached, the company must publish a charter that would make explicit the demands on, and rights of, employees out-of-hours.”

…”All the studies show there is far more work-related stress today than there used to be, and that the stress is constant,” MP Benoit Hamon told the BBC. “Employees physically leave the office, but they do not leave their work. They remain attached by a kind of electronic leash — like a dog. The texts, the messages, the emails — they colonize the life of the individual to the point where he or she eventually breaks down.”

There are no penalties for companies that don’t comply, however. We imagine it’s one of those situations where the “penalty” comes in the form of word of mouth about the type of place that company is, and how it treats its employees. At the same time, there are drawbacks as well. While we all hate those “I know you’re off today but…” phone calls and text messages, no one likes going back to the office to a pileup or an emergency that should have been handled while you were out, but just didn’t get touched.

What do you think? Would you want the “right to disconnect” enshrined in law? Would you want it more toothsome and penalties for companies that defied it, or would you prefer to let companies make a name for themselves by respecting the work-life balance of their employees, thus attracting the best talent? Let us know in the comments below.

Workers in France Now Have the ‘Right to Disconnect’ [PayScale]


  • Was the piece mistranslated? Each time I’ve seen it reported the bit about the dog and the leash throws me. Are dogs on leashes being mistreated? Or are employees docile? Anyway, I suspect there’s a lot of good intent behind this, but what is being reported seems awfully trite and misguided.

    Making explicit the demands on employees out of hours seems a no-brainer. I’m surprised this isn’t the norm. But the bit about being attached electronically seems to be the misguided bit. The solution of course, is not to check your phone. Naturally some people struggle with this, however a workplace law isn’t going to make much difference. People with this affliction will just find some other way to feed their anxiousness.

    There could be plenty of ways to directly address the issue, such as instilling a culture where there is not a default expectation of outside hours responsiveness. But I got no sense that this is where this initiative was aimed.

    As the article suggests, plenty of well adjusted people appreciate the opportunity to make contact freely, because significant value can be gained. It would seem counterproductive to introduce a misdirected law to stifle this.

  • Totally, I think the right to disconnect would be great. When I worked corporate, this would have been a gift as I was expected to work 24/7

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