PARIS, Jan. 1 (UPI) -- French workers have the legal right to dismiss work emails outside of working hours under the country's new "right to disconnect" law that began Sunday.
Companies with more than 50 employees must establish defined hours when staff are not allowed to send and answer work-related emails. The new law, introduced in May as part of a series of labor laws, was set up to stop employees from working off-the-clock overtime and decrease work-related stress and anxiety. The country already has a federally mandated 35 hour work week, in place since 2000.
"All the studies show there is far more work-related stress today than there used to be, and that the stress is constant," Member of Parliament Benoit Hamon told the 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," he said.
The law requires employers to draft a clear set of rules for disconnecting. Trade unions have criticized the law because there are no penalties for businesses that fail to comply.