- Posted by Olivia Hande
- On July 8, 2016
The French government has recently introduced a labour law by decree intended to alter conditions of employment in both the public and private sectors. Named after the labour minister Myriam El Khomri, the law has been met with significant opposition by the French labour force. A survey carried out shows a stark 71% of the public who oppose its introduction. El Khomri has far-reaching implications for the rights of the worker relating to the length of the working week, monetary claims for unfair dismissals, protections for the employer in cases of dismissal for economic reasons, and overtime pay, to name but a few.
A somewhat hidden proviso, with as yet unknown consequences, is the newly conceived ‘right to disconnect’. It appears to be an effort to address the idiosyncrasies of the modern working climate (coming from article 25 entitled “The adaption of Work Rights to the Digital Era”), which often inadvertently spills out of the workplace, as it was traditionally known, and blurs the lines between work and leisure.
For example, in certain cases employers not only permit but also insist that employees respond to emails outside of their working week. This is generally beyond their official remit but in the wake of the smartphone revolution, with the associated unfettered access, comes the potential for information overload leading to issues such as workplace related stress etc.
A personal/home life must remain sacrosanct and may now require legal protection from insidious forms of work presented by the modern era. Some argue that this is already covered in Irish law under section 8 of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005, where “every employer shall ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the safety, health and welfare at work of his or her employees” (emphasis added), but we await the case law.
This very issue came in to sharp focus with the 2013 death of 21 year-old intern with Bank of America, Moritz Erhardt, whose sudden death in the shower was preceded by weeks of excessive hours of work. (Find more here).