No Work After Work? Hahahahaha!

The Guardian recently reported that French labor unions have signed a deal that would “oblige staff to ‘disconnect’ from work calls and emails after working hours to ensure they receive the full minimum rest periods already mandated in French employment regulations.” The agreement comes in the wake of an avalanche of complaints from workers, suggesting that they have been forced to feel “on the clock” even after leaving work.

I’m conflicted: does this news make me wish I were French even harder than I usually do, or does it make me wonder how it’s possible that we — the French and the Americans — can possibly, actually occupy the same world. And I think I’m going with the latter.

Sure, it would be great if work actually ended at an ideal 6PM. There are a number of pastimes I could actually claw my teeth into — like getting a head start on recreational drinking, or appreciating instead of despising the art of a 30 minute, hands-free manicure. Amelia said she might take up learning a new language while I insisted I would probably cull a new hobby. Something like bowhunting or knitting. Maybe I would learn to churn cheese or do Karate.

All that free time would probably facilitate my becoming a further diverse and dynamic individual, but when I think about the French, I don’t think about a plethora of esoteric (if not useful!) extracurricular activities. Instead I picture a distinct brand of streamlined joie-de-vivre, and I’m just not sure my depleting attention span could handle that genre of leisure. So for now, I am totally cool with the fact that to work means to live and not the other way around.

For the sake of wishful-ish thinking, though, what would YOU do with all your newfound time if the United States were to implement such a rule. Better yet, actually, how do you think the corporations of America would react to such a decree? I’m LOL-ing just thinking about it.

[France Just Created A Law That Makes It Illegal For Anyone To Work Past 6 PM via Elite Daily]

  • Maya

    This is utopic. The capitalist and globalized world we live in would simply laugh at this. Even though I am completely for this new rule and how healthy and beneficial it would be if this time was spent in healthy, self-developing activities (happier, healthier people, less problesm more peace in the world) I know for sure it’s naive to believe employers would actually accept this. ESPECIALLY IN THE US!

  • Switching off is increasingly difficult!

  • I’m glad they’re trying to look out for workers in France. As a teacher, the idea of leaving my job at my job is a total pipe dream. I would lose my job if I only worked during the hours I was getting paid (which for me is when I’m actively in a classroom), and my students would hate that their papers never got returned to them. 😉

    As someone who is constantly asked to do more and more outside of work, I do see the importance that workers and management need to place on boundaries. I’ve set some pretty strong ones with my students and coworkers (especially involving how quickly I return emails). However, to keep my work at work is impossible.

    Like right now.

    I’d much rather be outside, dancing around in the sunshine in a pretty dress, or going shopping for new sandals. Instead, I’m staring at 50 papers that need graded, and about a dozen emails that need answered. It’s my day off…sort of. 🙂

  • Aubrey Green

    I’m moving. Seriously.

    How are you meant to enjoy life if you are always working?* Maybe,that’s why you should love what you do, cause then it’s not really work, best of both worlds?

    Happy employees are better employees.

    If we worked 30 hours a week, instead of the standard 40 (I know there are people who work more than that too), there would be a lot more productivity. They’ve done studies on this (sorry, I don’t have the statistics at hand). I relate it to the difference of a quarter system in college, to a semester in college – you have less weeks in quarter system because there are 4 of them in the year, on a semester system there’s only two – which means what, you get more classes in general out of the year. Most importantly though, you know that you don’t have time to screw around that quarter- in a semester system you kind of do.

    *My current employer didn’t give me a raise because of one email that didn’t sound ‘right’ to him, even though I’m always early, or at the very least on time and more importantly I stay at-least 30 mins late basically everyday. I’m here when I’m sick, do my work, etc. I would take the other rules/laws any day.

  • Julie

    Great article by Vanity Fair France about this “fausse rumeur” . As it is said at the end of the article, no one notice that the scandinavians countries are on their way to do the same thing. But they’re scandinavians, eh?!

  • Elodie


    I am French and I can tell you that this is a rumor and that (hopefully) no such law will ever be voted in France.


  • Melodie Nicole Akers

    I think it’s funny how laws such as this ignore a fair majority of professions… the photo in the Guardian, for example, shows people at a cafe where there is a WAITER who is WORKING past 6. Just saying. Not everyone benefits from this. I’m confused as to how this law would actually work, tbh…

  • I love that some countries have adopted this and feel inclined to move. You live life once and it is up to you to put yourself in an environment conducive to your goals and lifestyle wishes. A laid back simple life is all you need to enjoy the simple things.

  • I also laughed out loud when I heard that this morning while preparing for WORK.

    The working culture of the French and the working culture of the US are already vastly different. Not only do the French get a nice reprieve in the afternoon to forget work – NOW they want even more non-accessible-by-work free time? Curious, how do the French get anything done? It must be nice to live such a leisurely existence. Then again, as you said, to be working is to live. It’s nice to look back at your accomplishments with pride. I don’t think I’d ever look back so fondly and think ‘Wow, I’m really glad I lounged around all day drinking wine and eating cheese!”

    I mean, let it be known – us Americans love drinking wine and eating cheese too… We’re just motivated enough to manage working at the same time. Hello! That’s what smart phones were invented for 😉 Multi-tasking!


    • Rococo

      What a naïve vision of France. Let me guess, you must be one of those persons who think French women never get fat huh?
      Seriously though do you really think French and US working culture can be that different in a capitalist and globalized world?

      • Actually no, I’m not. And having spent a lot of time in France, yes I think the cultures between France and the US are very, very different.

  • Rebecca

    Hardly anyone does anything that is important or urgent enough to warrant being digitally tethered to their work after hours. This is just part of a huge societal tendency to keep people busy, numb and oblivious to what’s really important in life. I refuse to participate in it. Then again…I married a French man and am a staunch unionist. Vive la liberté!

  • Kiri Yanchenko

    I find this interesting. Because Australians and the Japanese have very long working hours. Australians are always on the clock with work phone calls and emails whereas the Japanese just have very long work hours…. Working for myself I can’t really switch off at all because I am too new an entity to not be trying to market myself constantly.
    However this suits my brain because it is always going.
    I guess I’d try to relax, maybe go for more walks…??
    But I’d probably being lying – I’d be working on my blog most probably.

  • In my opinion, it would be ideal if the work is finished at 6pm. But most people work more than necessary.
    Maybe we are workaholics and love to work more?
    Or business owners have used the slogan “work always and everywhere,” and promise people the various encouragements, which no one is willing to pay after?

    Stacy from

  • Lily

    I would learn German and how to make my own granola.

  • janneke

    On work & money; a letter from a famous American…

    Hello John,

    Thanks for the good letter. I don’t think it hurts, sometimes, to remember where you came from. You know the places where I came from. Even the people who try to write about that or make films about it, they don’t get it right. They call it “9 to 5.” It’s never 9 to 5, there’s no free lunch break at those places, in fact, at many of them in order to keep your job you don’t take lunch. Then there’s OVERTIME and the books never seem to get the overtime right and if you complain about that, there’s another sucker to take your place.

    You know my old saying, “Slavery was never abolished, it was only extended to include all the colors.”

    And what hurts is the steadily diminishing humanity of those fighting to hold jobs they don’t want but fear the alternative worse. People simply empty out. They are bodies with fearful and obedient minds. The color leaves the eye. The voice becomes ugly. And the body. The hair. The fingernails. The shoes. Everything does.

    As a young man I could not believe that people could give their lives over to those conditions. As an old man, I still can’t believe it. What do they do it for? Sex? TV? An automobile on monthly payments? Or children? Children who are just going to do the same things that they did?

    Early on, when I was quite young and going from job to job I was foolish enough to sometimes speak to my fellow workers: “Hey, the boss can come in here at any moment and lay all of us off, just like that, don’t you realize that?”

    They would just look at me. I was posing something that they didn’t want to enter their minds.

    Now in industry, there are vast layoffs (steel mills dead, technical changes in other factors of the work place). They are layed off by the hundreds of thousands and their faces are stunned:

    “I put in 35 years…”

    “It ain’t right…”

    “I don’t know what to do…”

    They never pay the slaves enough so they can get free, just enough so they can stay alive and come back to work. I could see all this. Why couldn’t they? I figured the park bench was just as good or being a barfly was just as good. Why not get there first before they put me there? Why wait?

    I just wrote in disgust against it all, it was a relief to get the shit out of my system. And now that I’m here, a so-called professional writer, after giving the first 50 years away, I’ve found out that there are other disgusts beyond the system.

    I remember once, working as a packer in this lighting fixture company, one of the packers suddenly said: “I’ll never be free!”

    One of the bosses was walking by (his name was Morrie) and he let out this delicious cackle of a laugh, enjoying the fact that this fellow was trapped for life.

    So, the luck I finally had in getting out of those places, no matter how long it took, has given me a kind of joy, the jolly joy of the miracle. I now write from an old mind and an old body, long beyond the time when most men would ever think of continuing such a thing, but since I started so late I owe it to myself to continue, and when the words begin to falter and I must be helped up stairways and I can no longer tell a bluebird from a paperclip, I still feel that something in me is going to remember (no matter how far I’m gone) how I’ve come through the murder and the mess and the moil, to at least a generous way to die.

    To not to have entirely wasted one’s life seems to be a worthy accomplishment, if only for myself.

    yr boy,


    (Charles Bukowski)

  • girlinmenswear

    You want to feel envious of a nation’s employment law you should check out Sweden’s. 9am to 5pm is standard with a full hour for lunch – if you have kids you can start at 8am and leave at 4pm if need be (this makes planning international conference calls virtually impossible).
    Summer hours mean that most offices clock off for the whole of July (company’s have to allow you to take three consecutive weeks of holiday p.a.), and on Friday’s you normally finish at 3-4pm (so you can get out to your summer house in good time). If you have a public holiday, you normally get a half day the day before so you can properly prep for your full day off. Oh, yeah, you also get paid EXTRA when you take holiday. Mmmm…throw in 18months maternity and paternity cover to distribute as you see fit and its basically perfection. But yeah I agree, how the hell does Sweden work in the wider world, right?