We Can’t Get With the French and Ban After-Hours E-mail

Written by: Bri Lee

France just brought in a bunch of new labour laws and one of them has the rest of the world buzzing: Companies with more than 50 employees must ban after-hours e-mail.

When I first read about it, I thought it was fantastic! If you work for a boss who is a bully or a company that doesn’t respect your home time, you now have the law to back you up.

I’ve worked high-intensity jobs before and I felt that my commute time was totally absorbed by work e-mails. Then the cheeky Saturday afternoon inbox check – just to make sure nothing big happened – and nothing big happened so you send a couple of e-mails while you’re there. Then people respond to the e-mails on Sunday so you’re checking it again, and by the time you’re on the bus Monday morning, it’s like you never left.

It’s awful, I know. But here’s the thing: this law is for big companies.

This law is not for freelancers and not even for small businesses. This law is not for people whose work involves social media, a lot of work across time zones, or any kind of creative pursuit.

france ban after-hours e-mail

In other words, if you’re reading Zanita Studio and you’re an entrepreneur or a blogger, this law is not for you.

The law reform documentation speaks about wanting to keep the “private” lives of the French people separate from their “professional” lives, but for most of us that sounds like a joke. If your blog is taking off and you have a sponsored post about yourself that needs to go up at 8pm… well… the “private”/”professional” distinction just got disproven.

I’m a writer and when I have big deadlines due, my greatest asset is my flexibility and my familiarity with technology. I can sit up into the wee hours of the morning when inspiration strikes and send it off to my editor so that it’s sitting at the top of her inbox the next morning. If I get an e-mail from an international editor late at night about a story or my manuscript, of course I’m going to check it and respond.

I even get a little cranky when I see people speaking too much about a “work-life” balance. It’s basically the same thing as what the French are trying to help their people achieve, but it just doesn’t ring true for me. I love my work, and it’s a huge part of my identity, and a huge part of my life. I love how flexible my hours are. I love that I’m building an online presence and can post something on Instagram while I’m relaxing after dinner.

So non, merci! This new French law is not for me.

Have I gone too far? Does anyone else feel like this?

– Bri
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