It's being reported today that French workers will be given the legal right not to read work emails outside their contractual working hours, as part of a package of labour market reforms.
Some businesses have already implemented this rule, claiming that workers are more efficient when they have a genuine chance to switch off while at home. German car giant Daimler went so far as to automatically delete employees' incoming emails while they were on holiday so that employees couldn't read them even if they wanted to. And there seems to be some evidence that workplace stress (and the sickness absence associated with it) is exacerbated when staff constantly check work emails outside working hours.
But while this sounds like a great way to improve work-life balance, will it really work, or have clients and customers got too used to 24-hour availability? Will employees feel confident enough to switch off, or in a tough economy will digital presenteeism prove too much of a temptation? There's also the argument that some employees are prepared to make themselves available outside working hours in exchange for employers giving them some flexibility in return - e.g. attending doctors' appointments or children's school events during working hours.
Whatever the pros and cons, it seems unlikely that the UK, which generally offers workers less legal protection than they have in France, will follow suit any time soon
Much as I'd love to analyse it further, it's a Friday afternoon and nearly time for me to switch off my computer pour le weekend...
France is set to give all workers the "right to disconnect" from work emails