French workers have the “Right to Disconnect” from work, should we follow suit?

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(OPINION) On January 1, French companies with more than 50 people came under a new law that requires a Right To Disconnect negotiation with employees. Is this really what America needs?

An applauded law

On January 1, French companies with more than 50 people came under a new law that makes it obligatory for employers to negotiate with employees concerning their rights to switch off email and electronic communications after hours.

Employers must have a plan for technology use that gives workers the right to disconnect. Labor unions and experts applaud the law, which doesn’t seem to have any penalties for companies that don’t comply.

Overwhelming evidence

There are numerous studies on stress and the workplace. I don’t think we have to reiterate the fact that employees need to shut down.

There are at least two studies that support separating from work and technology. Here’s one great article from The Real Daily’s Marti Trewe that delves into email and productivity.

There’s no need to make a case for disconnection.  I do find it strange that the French lawmakers assumed that companies could not police themselves and find a solution.

Could this work in America?

I shudder to think how this would work here in the United States. I find that as a whole, most businesses are so regulated already, why would we want to create another law?

Can’t employers and employees act like adults and discuss their accessibility?

If I was expected to be on call 24/7, 365 days a year, that company better be paying me big bucks.

Why is it so hard for people to set boundaries?Click To Tweet

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not perfect about setting boundaries, but I have managed to learn to disconnect from my work. When you work for yourself, it’s even harder to separate your business from your home life, but I do. I’ve also let my clients know that I’m not available 24/7.

Personally, I believe a lot of employees enjoy saying that they have to check in with work. It makes you feel important and connected. It’s also a way to avoid dealing with other problems.

I think Americans have a complicated relationship with technology. But it’s up to each of us to set limits for ourselves.


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