The French Can Now Ignore After-Hours Emails — & America Needs The Same Law

Photographed by Rockie Nolan.
When it comes to working in the age of the mobile phone, attaining work-life balance often feels like a myth. For those working in fields where email is the preferred method to get shit done, the workload seems to never end. The French Union made a major stride towards improving the lives of its citizens this week. Workers now have the "right to disconnect" and ignore business emails that arrive after work hours. "These measures are designed to ensure respect for rest periods and ... balance between work and family and personal life," said the Ministry of Labor in a statement according to CNN. The new regulation, instated on January 1 of this year, requires companies with 50 or more employees to create terms for handling out-of-office emails. Naturally, the law is filled with provisos, and will more than likely become better refined in the future; it's just one of many changes in the last 12 months. This is undoubtedly a step in the right direction for workers, particularly when it comes to companies being held accountable for permitting a culture of round-the-clock labor. When employees clock out, they should have the freedom to choose how they spend their time. Remember that scene in The Devil Wears Prada when Anne Hathaway's Andy was finally eating the meal she rightfully deserved with her dad, and then boom: The Devil, a.k.a. Meryl Streep's Miranda Priestly, calls? It made for great comedy. Though the scene surely gave some audience members, including myself, actual anxiety. Had this film been remade for 2017 Miranda would surely be sending Andy a chain of erratic emails instead. Who hasn't been there: It's late, you're out with friends, then suddenly your phone softly vibrates. You know this little vibration is enough to send your evening into a complete tailspin. Yet if you don't check the email — during your unpaid time — your job is threatened. Thanks to technology, this scenario has become normalized. And thanks to France that normalization has been flipped on its head. Now, the next question is, will any other countries follow suit? Your move America.

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