Wellbeing and the ‘Right to Disconnect’

05 March by Jack Cornick


The 'right to disconnect' is part of a set of new labour laws introduced by French labour minister, to help to combat the 'always on' culture that dominates 21st century business.

From 1st January 2017, French employers with 50 or more employees must open a negotiation with employees to agree parameters for working out of hours.

The French legislation recognises the need for flexibility but aims to establish a dialogue to improve the downtime for employees and enable them to switch-off out of official working hours.

There is no obligation to reach an agreement, but it is the employer’s responsibility to try to introduce measures to help their employees achieve a healthy work-life balance.

In contrast, in the UK apart from Working Time Regulations and general health and safety obligations, there are no specific laws addressing the issue of online access out of hours.

It is more a question of individual employers adopting internal measures to promote wellbeing among staff, recognising that, apart from their general health and safety/working time obligations, this is likely to be better for recruitment, retention and productivity.

In the UK, there has been a growing awareness of the impact of a 24/7 culture on people’s health (mental and physical) and on productivity. With the onus being on improving awareness, rather than legislating. 

Currently there are no plans to pass similar laws to France, however with the UK’s productivity continuing to lag 16% behind German and France, should we consider a different approach?

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