It’s 8 PM, the kids are in bed and the wife and I are finally able to get some time for ourselves until I get an e-mail from work. Do I open the e-mail after hours or will I get to it in the morning? But what if it’s important and I have to act now? These days it’s we have to deal with blurring boundaries between work and life which has an impact on the so called work/life balance.
I recently read an article about France introducing a new law that where French workers are no longer obliged to respond to work related e-mails or phone call after hours.
What’s not really clear is if this bill limits the communication to e-mail and phone calls only or that they also included messaging apps too. These days we also use apps like Slack, HipChat, WhatsApp to communicate with colleagues which could be a loophole.
The thing that comes up when I read this is that in most situations it will not work because you’re removing all the flexibility. The other thing is that most companies evaluate employees based on their availability and their flexibility.
There also a side note that employers are allowed to make different arrangements with employees.
Employers will probably adjust contracts from this point on that, if you’re in some sort of position where the availability is important, you’re obliged to answer which will render the law useless in a lot of situations.
I never had a problem responding to work related e-mails after hours because I think in my profession as a DBA it’s part of the job. Usually you’re the lonely DBA (or part of a small team) and when shit hits the fan there’s nobody else that is able to fix it. That’s not only in the field of the DBA but mostly with all the colors of the IT rainbow.
In my opinion I think you’re responsible for setting your own boundaries to make sure your work/life balance doesn’t get distorted in such a way that it will affect you personal life in a bad way.
One thing I’ve always done is that when I was in the situation where I had to be available after hours I would have a separate phone. If I’m on vacation and I’m not able to respond, or don’t want to respond, I leave my phone at home. I would give my personal phone number to a very limited group of people that only in the case of a real bad situation they could try to contact me.
This has always worked out for me and fortunately I’ve had employers that respected that arrangement.
Still France has passed this law on January 1 and the thought behind is admirable but if this will ever work is something we’ll see in the future.