- Employers not allowed to contact staff during the 133 hours of the week
- New laws help argument that France is laziest European country
- French already enjoy six weeks paid leave, and a 35 hour work week
- Even French headquarters of Google and Facebook can adhere to rules
Workers in Socialist France can now ignore telephone calls and emails from their bosses when they are at home.
It is all part of a new legal agreement which confirms President Francois Hollande’s country as arguably the laziest in Europe.
As well as enshrining the 35-hour working week as a cornerstone of French life, his party has cut the retirement age by two years since coming to power two years ago.
The French also enjoy six weeks paid leave, and extremely generous sick leave and striking rights.
Now employers will no longer be allowed to contact staff during the 133 hours of the week designated for rest.
It is all part of a new agreement signed by employers’ federations and trade unions in the digital and technology sectors.
The law specifically makes it illegal for workers in the digital and consultancy sectors – including the French offices of Google, Facebook, Deloitte and PwC – to respond to emails or phone calls after 6pm.
Staff will be ordered to switch off their work phones, and companies must ensure that their employees come under no pressure to look at work-related emails or documents on their devices.
Strict French labour laws have already seen Apple fined for making staff in France work nights.
This is because the law forbids shifts between 9pm and 6am unless the work plays an important role in the economy or is socially useful.
Now the 35-hour week, introduced by the Socialists in 1999, has come under threat from the increasingly widespread use of smartphones and other mobile devices.
The chairman of the General Confederation of Managers, Michel de la Force, said: ‘We must also measure digital working time.
‘We can admit extra work in exceptional circumstances but we must always come back to what is normal, which is to unplug, to stop being permanently at work.’
France is notorious for having a vast, pampered public sector enjoying some of the best civil servant benefits in the world.
It comes as opinion polls continually portray Mr Hollande as by far the most unpopular leader in the history of modern France.
This is mainly because of his disastrous economic policies, which have seen the unemployment rate soar above the 11 per cent mark.
His entire government was forced to resign last month, with new ministers appointed in a reshuffle.