Economy Disconnection, a recognized right but still very theoretical

Disconnection, a recognized right but still very theoretical

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One of the solutions to hyperconnection is to switch off your business phone when you get home. – IStock / City Presse

Are you the type to check your work emails at night and on weekends? Do you answer calls from your boss even after your day is over? For you, does vacation rhyme with your business computer in your suitcase? Like a majority of French people, you are therefore hyperconnected to your job.

A permanent hyperconnection

While it is difficult to find official data on such a subjective notion, various studies have for many years denounced the hyperconnection effect caused by the generalization of digital tools in the professional sphere. Faced with the ubiquitous solicitations of e-mails, chats and other professional networks, working people are struggling to get off the hook. As of 2014, the specialist site Cadreo.com estimated that 27% of executives continued to work during their vacation. In 2018, the Qapa.fr interim platform revealed that 62% of workers answered their professional calls or emails during their leave, compared to 71% in 2020.

And the rise of teleworking due to the coronavirus pandemic has obviously only worsened the situation. According to a survey carried out in spring 2020 by the European agency Eurofound, more than a third of workers in the EU have indeed started teleworking during confinement (compared to 5% before the crisis). However, 27% of people who work at home declared that they had worked in their free time in order to meet the work requirements.

A la carte terms

However, the right to disconnect came into force in France in 2017, after being introduced by the Labor Law. Without however giving a legal definition, article L. 2242-17 of the Labor Code indicates that it is a question of “ensuring the respect of the periods of rest and leave as well as of the personal and family life”. If the general idea is consensus, it is the implementation that fails. The State has in fact returned the modalities of exercise to company agreements. This question is one of the subjects that must be addressed in the framework of collective bargaining on the quality of life at work, which must take place every year in companies with more than 50 employees (or every four years according to the collective agreement). The objective is to consider practical measures aimed at ensuring the effectiveness of this right and at regulating the use of digital tools.

If no agreement is reached, the employer must go through a charter drawn up after consulting the Social and Economic Committee (from 11 employees), in particular to provide for “training and awareness actions on the reasonable use of digital tools. “. As for the employees of the smallest companies, they must rely, as often, on the goodwill of their employer. The size of the company does not matter anyway, since the law does not impose any obligation of result. Therefore, no sanction is foreseen when the legal provisions of the right to disconnect are not implemented.

Move the lines

More and more senior institutions are addressing the negative consequences of this permanent connection. Being constantly available outside of working hours would indeed lead to an increased risk of depression, anxiety and burn-out among employees. So many psycho-social dangers that have been intensified by the pandemic and the often erratic generalization of teleworking.

In a resolution of January 21, 2021, the European Parliament also recommends recognizing the right to disconnect as fundamental and regulating it explicitly within the EU.

How to say stop?

Remote work is just one modality like any other for performing tasks, and therefore subject to the same legal framework as in a company. In face-to-face or teleworking, do not hesitate to assert your disconnection.

It starts with turning off your pro phone outside of your work hours. Before going on leave, also remember to activate your absence message redirecting to a colleague’s e-mail. Only entrust your personal number to a trusted employee who will only contact you in the event of a real emergency.

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