VIVE LA FRANCE New law gives French workers the right to log off from work

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FRENCH WORKERS ARE FREE AT LAST. They no longer have to be connected to work by mobile phone or internet 24/7.

Effective January 1, 2017 they will have the legal "right to disconnect" from their phones and e-mails after working hours. Every company with more than 50 employees has to draw up a charter which sets out the hours when their staff are not supposed to send or answer e-mails. If they require employees to do this, they must pay them for their time, similar to overtime.

It may seem strange to us, who seem to be on call 24/7/365, but the new law aims to deal with “the burden of work and the informational overburden, the blurring of the borders between private life and professional life, are risks associated with the usage of digital technology.” This law comes on the heels of German companies like Volkswagen, which turns off its servers after hours, and Daimler, which allows employees to automatically delete e-mails they receive while on vacation. Maybe it’s the wave of the future. At least in Europe. Now, if only we could get this type of thinking across the water.

Pallister likes the French approach–for himself

One person who seems to have adopted the new law, at least for himself, is Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister. At a time when his right-wing government is planning to gut labour laws and decimate public services in that province, he has adopted a much-more relaxed lifestyle, at least for himself. For many years, he has owned and operated businesses and property in Costa Rica. He lives there for months at a time, continuing this practice, even after being elected Premier of Manitoba. He claims to work while he’s there, but according to an investigation by the Winnipeg Free Press, he doesn’t use e-mail while he’s “working” in that tropical island.

Records obtained by the Free Press show for the first three months as premier, Pallister had no email communication with any of his senior political staff, including his chief of staff and director of communications. In addition, Pallister’s office has disclosed the premier is not receiving any documents once he has left Manitoba to spend weeks at a time in Costa Rica. In fact, there is no indication that Pallister even has a personal government email account.

Winter in Winnipeg

Over Christmas, while the temps in Winnipeg plunged to the normal minus 20, Pallister went to Costa Rica where he intends to stay for most of January. Who wouldn’t? At the same time his office went to great lengths to argue he would continue in his role as premier by maintaining regular contact with his cabinet and staff. The question is how.

But the real question is this: Will Brian Pallister now finally lead Manitoba and the rest of Canada by allowing workers in that province to drop off the grid while on vacation or even on the weekends? We are not holding our breath.

The French Lead the Way But…
As people in North America continue to lose ground and time against the demands of work, French workers are fighting back and sometimes even winning. For years, they have had a formal working week of 35 hours and very generous vacation leave packages. Now they have gained an important right in a campaign to protect their precious time off with family and friends.

Effective January 1, 2017 they will have the legal ‘right to disconnect’ from their phones and e-mails after working hours. Every company with more than 50 employees has to draw up a charter which sets out the hours when their staff are not supposed to send or answer e-mails. If they require employees to do this, they must pay them for their time, similar to overtime.

It may seem strange to us, who seem to be on call 24/7/365, but the new law aims to deal with “the burden of work and the informational overburden, the blurring of the borders between private life and professional life, are risks associated with the usage of digital technology.” This law comes on the heels of German companies like Volkswagen, which turns off its servers after hours, and Daimler, which allows employees to automatically delete e-mails they receive while on vacation. Maybe it’s the wave of the future. At least in Europe. Now, if only we could get this type of thinking across the water.

But the Premier Knows Best

One person who seems to have adopted the new law, at least for himself, is Premier Brian Pallister of Manitoba. At a time when his right-wing government is planning to gut labour laws and decimate public services in that province, he has adopted a much-more relaxed lifestyle, at least for himself. For many years, he has owned and operated businesses and property in Costa Rica. He lives there for months at a time, continuing this practice, even after being elected Premier of Manitoba. He claims to work while he’s there, but according to an investigation by the Winnipeg Free Press, he doesn’t use e-mail while he’s “working” in that tropical island.

Records obtained by the Free Press show for the first three months as premier, Pallister had no email communication with any of his senior political staff, including his chief of staff and director of communications. In addition, Pallister’s office has disclosed the premier is not receiving any documents once he has left Manitoba to spend weeks at a time in Costa Rica. In fact, there is no indication that Pallister even has a personal government email account.

Over Christmas, while the temps in Winnipeg plunged to the normal minus 20, Pallister went to Costa Rica where he intends to stay for most of January. Who wouldn’t? At the same time his office went to great lengths to argue he would continue in his role as premier by maintaining regular contact with his cabinet and staff. The question is how.

But the real question is this. Will Brian Pallister now finally lead Manitoba and the rest of Canada by allowing workers in that province to drop off the grid while on vacation or even on the weekends? We are not holding our breath.

 

This article was originally published by The Canadian Labour Institute.  

Reprinted with permission for CALM Members use.

http://canadianlabourinstitute.org/story/vive-la-france