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France Places Restrictions On Checking Work E-mails, Follows Companies Like Volkswagen, Bank of America and Zillow

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First Posted: Apr 12, 2014 09:51 AM EDT
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Lawmakers in France signed a labor agreement deal Friday that requires employers in the technology and consultancy industries to prohibit employees from checking emails and other work-related material on their computers or smartphones outside of work.

The Guardian reported that the new deal affects roughly 250,000 employees working for the French divisions of companies such as Google, Facebook, Deloitte and PwC. The law is an extension of the country's 1999 law that set a 35-hour maximum a week for work.

Labor unions fought to get the new law passed as numerous employers were sending work emails to employees during after hours, which was extending the workers' hours beyond the 35-hour maximum.

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Under the 1999 law, French workers were to receive the full minimum rest periods, and the new law obliges staff to disconnect from company emails and phone calls, according to the Guardian.

The new law also comes as labor unions raise concerns that smartphones have erased boundaries of the workday, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Germany's labor ministry already enacted a similar email-limit policy that prohibits company supervisors from sending emails at night with the exception of an emergency. The German automaker Volkswagen implemented its own policy back in 2011 that cut off email sending between 6:15 p.m. and 7 a.m. and applies to roughly 3,500 of its employees, according to the Journal.

In the last few months, companies such as Bank of America Corp., Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. in the U.S. also enacted rules that encourage employees to take time off on weekends.

Zillow Inc. Chief Executive Officer Spencer Rascoff told his employees that although checking emails is a daily habit for American workers, they should still log off from work-relate materials when appropriate.

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