France Votes for the "Right to Disconnect" by Making Weekend Work Illegal


Alyssa Rosenheck Photography, Design by Kendall Simmons

We look to the French for all sorts of inspiration: baby names, entertaining tips, recipes, effortless home décor, style… the list goes on. But what about their steadfast commitment to a healthy work-life balance? The European country recently passed a controversial labor reform bill, which contains a little-known amendment suggesting that companies of 50 people or more should instate formal policies requiring employees to disconnect from work after hours. In other words, checking your work email from bed or on a weekend road trip could technically be illegal.

"All the studies show there is far more work-related stress today than there used to be, and that the stress is constant," says  Benoit Hamon of the French National Assembly to 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." 

In the United States, we're no strangers to this burnout culture—some millennials even pride themselves on their workaholism and want to be seen as office over-achievers. Unsurprisingly, the mental and emotional toll of this so-called "electronic leash" knows no international bounds, as is painfully obvious in this 2016 study from Lehigh University. "Email is notoriously known to be the impediment of the recovery process," write the researchers."If people cannot disconnect from work and recuperate, it leads to burnout, higher turnover, more deviant behavior, lower productivity, and other undesirable outcomes."

Do you think the United States should follow in France's footsteps? Share your opinion below!