Events in France keep getting sillier and sillier. Wasn’t the new Prime minister Manuel Valls supposed to be pro business?

So how does nonsense like this happen: France Prohibits Sending Work Emails Outside Working Hours

Via translation from La Vanguardia

Your boss sends you emails when you’ve already left work? Will you answer? In France, this is prohibited if the workday is finished.

This is stated in an agreement between the two unions, the French Democratic Confederation of Labour (CFDT) and the French Confederation of Managerial Staff Executives (CFE-CGC), and two sector employers technical consulting, engineering, computer services, human resources and consulting for an end to the endless day workers.

The advent of smartphones has been a positive change in many ways, but has also enabled the ‘meddling’ in our private lives of our working lives, something that the French authorities want to avoid.

Therefore, workers must turn off the phone and computer work for eleven hours and therefore have the right to ignore work emails sent out of hours. Meanwhile, companies are obliged to ensure that this measure is met.


In response to the above, one reader strenuously objected to the accuracy.

After exchanging numerous emails, his main objection was the title itself “France Prohibits Sending Work Emails, Answering Cell Phones, Outside Working Hours.”

Here is the exact headline of La Vanguardia that I translated “France prohibits sending mails from work outside working hours“.

The big objection? Claiming “France” did this.

Similarly, the Guardian received a lot of flak for its report When the French clock off at 6pm, they really mean it.

The Guardian originally had the number of people affected at 1,000,000. They corrected it to 250,000 and posted this correction.

This article was amended on 11 April 2014. An earlier version stated that the labour deal would affect “a million employees” and require staff “to switch off their phones after 6pm”. The deal obliges staff to “disconnect” from work calls and emails after working hours to ensure they receive the full minimum rest periods already mandated in French employment regulations but there is no particular time at which they are required to do so. While the deal was signed by unions representing 1 million employees, it will affect only 250,000 workers directly.

The article I quoted did not mention a time of day or the number of people affected. Thus I did not have several errors present in the Guardian report.

Moreover, I know how these things start. In my opinion, this will quickly cascade, to numerous other unions.

Duty to Disconnect

A Translation on Les Echos speaks of the “duty to disconnect communication tools at a distance” to ensure that the minimum rest periods imposed by the French and European regulations on workload and minimum rest time.

Correcting the Guardian, Slate France complains France does not prohibit employees from sending mails after 18h

Here is an amusing snip (translation not modified)…

A response to a court order

It is far from a victory for labor unions on employers as required by the snapshot on France.

The agreement is negotiated since September by representatives of employers and employees, and responds to a decision of the Supreme Court, which in April 2013 had invalidated the previous device, holding the amplitude control and workload days packages insufficient. And therefore the health of employees not protected enough.

Supposedly ….

  1. France did not issue the ruling (instead, a French court mandated it) 
  2. It’s not even a victory for the labor unions
  3. Only 250,000 are affected 
  4. It won’t spread

Lost in the nitpicking over titles, the entire point of my original post was the ridiculousness of it all. And it is ridiculous.

No one forces anyone to answer emails or cell phones. No agreements or legislation was needed. But here it is, and it will spread.

Getting the idea correct … Business Insider reports France didn’t actually ban work email after 6 pm — but what did happen is still really funnyFrance’s administrative court recently ruled that tech workers’ right to health and rest was not sufficiently protected by existing laws. Yes, a judge actually said that.

My sin? I said “France” not “French Court Rules”.

Apologies offered.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock