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Pardonnez-moi, Boss, I Can't Answer the Phone Now, I'm Chez Moi

A new French labor agreement stipulates that workers in one sector don't have to answer business calls or emails after office hours.

Ever tempted to ignore the boss' telephone call or email when you're home relaxing at night or on the beach at the weekend?

Well, a group of French workers will be able to remain incommunicado outside of office hours, without fear of the consequences, according to a new labor agreement.

Image::No reply: Some workers in France will be able to ignore the boss' calls or emails after working hours, according to a new labor agreement.|||[object Object]
No reply: Some workers in France will be able to ignore the boss' calls or emails after working hours, according to a new labor agreement. AP file

Under the deal with employers' federations, members of the unions in the technology and consultancy sectors, are under no obligation to look at work-related material on their computers or smartphones outside of work hours.

The affected employees include those working for the French arms of Google and Facebook.

France is the only country in the world to have a 35-hour working week enshrined into law, and employee groups have fought hard to protect it since its introduction in 1999.

However the encroachment of smartphones means that more and more workers found themselves dealing with work during the hours when they were supposed to be free.

The new labor agreement which is legally binding means that employees who are at risk of burnout have a right to disconnect and not look at work-related material on their computers or smartphones after 6 p.m., and companies must ensure that workers are not pressured in any way to do so.

C'est la vie!

- Steve James

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