Some weeks ago, a number of newspapers and other media outlets in the US and UK suggested that a new law had been introduced in France which banned employees from checking e-mails after 6pm. These reports were highly inaccurate.
What has, in fact, happened is that organisations representing employers and employees in the field of technology and consulting and digital industry have renegotiated the working time arrangements of certain managers working in that particular industry. One outcome of those negotiations is that, in companies subject to the Syntec Collective Bargaining Agreement (‘CBA’), ‘autonomous managers’ whose working time is calculated by reference to days per year (rather than weekly hours) must have their communication tools disconnected at some point during the day. The CBA does not specify the time or duration of such disconnection and, in particular, does not say that it must take place at 6 pm.
The newly negotiated term only applies to ‘autonomous managers’, who are defined as: employees who perform extended management, commercial or consulting activities or who have responsibility for the creation, direction and supervision of work while benefiting from a high level of autonomy, independence and freedom in the organisation and management of their working time to fulfil their duties.
In reality, while the revised CBA terms introduce a very limited duty on some employees to disconnect their communication equipment (such as smart-phones), this rule only applies to autonomous managers working in this specific field and, even then, does not go so far as to specify the time and duration of the disconnection. Despite what some news reports suggested, therefore, the new agreement does not prohibit any work performed after 6pm, nor prevent emails being checked or sent after 6pm.