No After-Hours Emails – Can You Imagine?

France now has a law against after-hours emails to employees. Does this make sense to you? Could you get your work done on this basis? Is that question your concern, or is it up to the employer to organize your time more effectively?

Can such a law apply to professionals or others who do not punch a clock?

Are the benefits worth the inconvenience … given that the benefits go to the employees and the inconvenience to the employers, to a large extent.

When France legislated its 35-hour week, over 15 years ago, one consequence was that people had a harder time connecting with others, since the others simply weren’t there as reliably. That may have settled down over time.

Can it/should it happen here?


  1. My own employees are not expected to access their work e-mails after they leave the office for the day. If I employed other professionals I might not find that entirely convenient, but I’d still hope to place no expectation on it.

  2. And it’s not just the French! The US Department of Labor, in a pre-rule information gathering process, issued a Request for Information in the spring of 2016 to look into electronic communications outside of work hours as they relate to employment issues.

  3. Maxime Fournier

    “Are the benefits worth the inconvenience … given that the benefits go to the employees and the inconvenience to the employers, to a large extent.”

    We could say the exact opposite about when people started being avalaible to their employer 24/7 thanks to e-mails and cellphones.

  4. Kristin Hodgins

    I think mobile devices actually provide some much needed work-life balance for many salaried professionals, particularly those with young children. You can leave at 4:00 pm to pick your kids up from daycare, have the evening with them, and then respond to emails after they’ve gone to bed. We’ve all heard of the “mommy track” where women were (and still are) perceived to be less dedicated to their work and less available because of the demands of child-rearing, but we’ve slowly started to come around to the idea that one does not always need to be sitting in an office to be present. In my own workplace, I’ve also seen many men with young children achieve a better work-life balance because they are still available when they leave the office early to shuttle their children to a soccer practice, and so they feel like they can do that. Everyone wins.

    I think my generation, having grown up with this kind of technology, doesn’t necessarily see a stark contrast between work/rest-of-life. It all blends together in a way I for one am quite comfortable with. It’s been my experience that those who want flexibility generally find a way to make it happen, and those who prefer a strict work/life divide also tend to have it.

    All of this of course becomes much more challenging in unionized office environments where most workers are hourly and are paid overtime, as is also the case for most other non-managerial employees.

    France is also a different country with a different labour history and different cultural norms. They have a better child care system, more vacation and more free time; they also have a higher rate of unionization, higher unemployment rate (it’s particularly dismal for young workers), lower productivity, and a growing discord between the (largely immigrant) poor and the rest of the country. Strong labour protections are moot when you can’t find a job in the first place.

    I personally wouldn’t want Canada to model its labour policies after France’s.

  5. A Globe and Mail survey from 2015 shows the following results:

    “…the Losing It group – the most highly stressed workers – had 1,794 respondents, and this is what their profile looked like:
    • 9 per cent were senior managers or executives
    • 75 per cent had a university degree or higher
    • 40 per cent made $79,000 or more annually
    • 52 per cent said they put in 80 per cent or more effort into their job each day
    • 24 per cent said they had no job flexibility
    • 4 per cent reported they suffered from a mental health issue
    • 48 per cent said they called in sick more than four days a year
    • 80 per cent said they would come to work even when feeling ill more than twice a year.” Gillian Livingston, “Survey says: We’re stressed (and not loving it)”, Globe and Mail, February 2, 2015.

    From the above results, it seems this type of regulation/law may be beneficial to many, of course the above results are over a year old.