The new "right to disconnect" in France
21 February 2017
In response to the increasing use of digital tools which blurs the line between professional life and personal life, a new obligation relating to working time has been introduced in France by the law of August 8th, 2016 relating to Work, Modernisation of Social Dialogue and Securitization of Professional Processes (commonly referred to as the "Labour Law").
Overview of legal provisions
- Companies with more than 50 employees and a trade union representative: entering into effect as of January 1st, 2017, the right to disconnect will have to be included in mandatory annual negotiations with trade unions, in its part on gender equality and quality of life at work (article L. 2242-8 of the French Labour Code). Failing agreement, the employer will have to draw up a unilateral charter on this point, after having obtained the opinion of the works council or, failing this, the staff delegates;
- All companies implementing a specific working time arrangement known as "forfait jours" (fixed annual number of working days) will have to define the modalities by which the right to disconnect is implemented within their organisation (either through a collective agreement or through a unilateral charter). These provisions are applicable since 10 August 2016.
Applicable sanctions for non-compliance
Is the "right to disconnect" innovative?
- Communicate that employees are not expected to respond to emails and should refrain from sending emails outside business hours.
- Support this message by providing appropriate training sessions to managers, to support work / life balance.
- Monitor excessive flows of emails outside business hours to identify employees to whom a reminder can be sent.
- Include gentle reminders in the form of pop-up boxes or authorise employees to set up an automatic response informing the sender that the message will be reviewed in the next morning or business day.
- Include in employees’ annual reviews an item about work / life balance and about effective implementation of the right to disconnect.