Of course French employees will still answer email after 6PM. Are you kidding me?

Apr 10, 2014
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Another week, another ridiculous set of accusations to respond to. When Engadget’s “Paris-based” correspondent phoned in a lazy combination of words that can best be described as the editorial equivalent of a Jackson Pollock-inspired work that replaced paint with fecal matter (yes, that’s throwing shit at a canvas and calling it art), I brushed it off as “uneducated garbage” and told others to do so as well.

But when The Guardian decides to weigh in the subject, I have to draw the line.

For those who are just tuning in, it would seem that, as a result of the recent government switch-up, one of the first initiatives to show how the new administration is working hard to achieve the socialist capitalist agenda, was to reinforce the pacte de responsibilité, a pact between employer and employee. One such addition was to prevent employers from being able to pressure employees to work harder by sending emails after office hours – essentially, the digital equivalent of not receiving a phone call in the middle of dinner from your boss.

Now let me tell you how that affects 99% of France: it doesn’t.

First off, no one finishes work at 6PM. You just don’t. The socially agreed upon time to finish work, at least in companies I’ve interacted with (big & small, tech & non-tech) is roughly 7-7:30PM. You do an 8 hour day, starting at 9AM, and accounting from roughly 2 hours of lunch & breaks throughout the day, and you get 9AM to 7PM as a pretty standard work day.

Yes – the government says stupid things. Sometimes the UK government puts someone in charge of their “teach children to code in schools” initiative who doesn’t know how to code. Sometimes the US Government’s healthcare website (or system as a whole) doesn’t work. Sometimes the French socialist administration makes grandiose statements about taxing the rich, making sure the companies that can’t afford to keep their doors open manage not to fire employees, and sometimes they put a clause in employee contracts that will defend employees against being let go from their job for not answering emails at 9PM.

No – the government can’t ban email after 6PM.

No – French people don’t work 35 hours (the statistical average is 39.5 hours).

No – French working days don’t end at 6PM.

Yes – France does have a very healthy habit of putting in place initiatives that defend employees from being fired for not meeting surpassed expectations of their employees, like answering emails after work hours.