When we first heard about an article from the Guardian about France employers from sending their workers emails after 6pm, we nearly packed our bags and plotted a move over seas, but unfortunately the real news from the country isn’t as exciting as it first sounded.
The Guardian wrote about a report from French business daily Les Echos that said bosses and union heads made an agreement that employees would not check business correspondence outside of working hours “even on their smartphones.” Incidentally, the report’s headline in the story said, “When The French Clock Off At 6 p.m., They Really Mean It,” but through the Internet game of “telephone” the report was soon filtered through Chinese media outlets as “France Makes Work Beyond 6 p.m. Illegal.”
It was definitely an error, but once the news entered social media, it spread like wildfire.
— Ashley (@49Ashleys) April 10, 2014
— Touré (@Toure) April 11, 2014
LET’S ALL MOVE TO FRANCE!!! http://t.co/98GSeM7ht5
— Surekha Pillai (@surekhapillai) April 11, 2014
— Bäé & Nephew (@Carnegro) April 10, 2014
Then news outlets started picking it up like wildfire. But before you book your ticket overseas, there’s a few things you should know.
For one, it’s not a law and was not voted on by the French parliament. According to more, er, accurate reports, this is merely a deal between trade unions and employees who are mainly engineers and consultants that work during the day. The agreement will not affect “a million employees,” but rather about 200,000-250,000 workers in that select industry. Plus, the 6 p.m. deadline for employers to stop sending emails isn’t etched in stone, but merely encouraged.
That means, the average 35-hour work week French employees won’t be enjoying a guaranteed evening mini vacation from their inboxes. We can only dream of a day when we’re all forced to stay away out of work e-mails after work. But, alas, the show must go on.