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Pardon the interruption: France says after hours emails are off limits

January 11, 2017

working after hoursIn May 2016, the French legislature passed a rule requiring companies with more than 50 employees to negotiate with their workforce to establish hours when staff should not send or reply to emails. The new rule went into effect on Jan. 1, 2017. Widely known as the “right to disconnect,” the new rule seeks to give employees the flexibility to work outside the office or choose to disconnect and reduce work-related burn-out. Some French companies have reported shutting down email systems at night and prohibiting employees from using mobile devices for work purposes outside of work hours to comply with the new rule.

No similar law is in place in the United States. However, employers should keep in mind that they are required to compensate non-exempt employees for all work performed, whether it is done on a mobile device or at the office, with limited exceptions. This is a growing area of risk for employers.

Millennial workers are the fastest growing population in the United States, and they rely heavily on mobile and remote devices to perform work. A recent study found that four out of five Millennials reported reading work-related emails on their smartphones. That same study found that 56% of Millennials reported working more than 9 hours per day, and 33% reported working more than 10 hours per day. As a result, it is important for employers to (1) have strict timekeeping policies in place and enforce them; and (2) consider instituting policies limiting a non-exempt employee’s ability to perform work on remote devices outside of business hours.

For more information about legal issues affecting the changing workforce, please consider attending our complimentary half-day Labor & Employment Law seminars in February and March, 2017.

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