French labor unions have signed a law requiring employees to shut off their smartphones at exactly 6 pm, preventing bosses from hounding workers after they have fulfilled the hours they are responsible for.
According to The Guardian, the measure was put into place after workers complained that they should be getting paid for more than 35 hours of work since their bosses have the ability to send texts and emails about additional duties even after the work day has technically expired.
The agreement will affect roughly one million employees of the technology industry, which includes the French branches of Google and Facebook.
Each company involved must make sure that its employees are under no pressure to look at emails or any work-related material on their smartphones or computers after 6 pm.
Virtually all communication between employer and employee will be cut off at the time, so any attempts from an employer to contact an employee about anything that’s not an emergency can legally be ignored.
The agreement has garnered immense distaste from around the world, mostly because it perpetuates the lazy, careless stereotypes long attached to France.
Many believe that this attitude led to the implementation of a 35-hour work week in 1999, five hours fewer than the legally required work week of full-time employees in most major nations.
“While we poor, pallid, cowering Brits scurry about, increasingly cowed by the threat of recession-based redundancy and government measures that privilege bosses’ and shareholder comfort over workers’ rights, the continentals are clocking off,” wrote The Guardian’s Lucy Mangan.
It seems that because France does not echo the US’s infatuation with technology and productivity, the country’s labor unions think the ability to view emails whenever one wants is not a valuable tool, but an excuse for employers to ask more of their employees than they signed up for.