You’ve left the office then hear a beep on your phone? You’ve received a work email, do you reply to it or do you wait until you are back in the office? Not only does France already have a strict 35 hour working week but the country have introduced new rules aimed at protecting those who work in the digital and consultancy sectors, as part of a deal employees will have to switch off their work phones and not be pressured into reading / responding to work emails outside of hours.
France are not the only country to enforce such rules. Germany’s labour ministry already do this but have gone one step further by also banning work calls outside of business hours.
No doubt there are workers who will be cheering that finally when they finish work and leave the office they can enjoy the rest of their evening, holiday without being bombarded with work related issues. It seems a shame that Law is a required to stop employers adding pressure to its employees to work longer and harder. The UK has always been very keen to offer opt out to employees regarding the work-time directive, so will the UK look to adopt the newer ideas yet provide a way out for employees/employers?
There have been suggestions that British bosses should follow suit, the problem with this is for some work does not end at 6pm whether they are in the office or not. As can be seen in the case of young bankers. Wall Street Investment banks have agreed to ease up on the number of hours junior staff are expected to work without decreasing the work load. In theory this may sound like a great idea as junior staff get to spend a leisurely Saturday to themselves that otherwise would have been spent working. In reality many junior staff now feel under more pressure to complete their work before the Saturday or spending more time than they would have liked on subsequent days in order to meet deadlines.
These employment rules are meant to benefit employers and employees alike, but if we were to look at the unemployment statistics from EuroStat, Germany may have one of the lowest unemployment figures with 5.1% yet France’s unemployment sits at 10.4% with the UK in the middle with 7.1%. Austria has the lowest unemployment rate with 4.8% but unlike France the country have a maximum working week of 40 hours (50 with overtime).
I’m all for a good work life balance but in some jobs this isn’t always possible. People running their own businesses, new start-ups can’t afford the luxury to disappear off the grid until they have done all they can to keep the business ticking over. As the unemployment figures have shown, compared to their counterparts France’s employment laws do encourage a healthier work life balance but when it comes to the unemployment figures it would appear the countries that put in the hours also have more people in work.
You can also view this article on Jobserve