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The Right To Disconnect: Work, The French Way



Work-life balance is a fundamental right for employees in France. Every French employee must spend at least eleven hours away from work. For companies with over fifty employees, the right to disconnect from work is a must—the French work thirty-five to forty hours weekly. Usually, the French workday starts at nine a.m. and ends at six pm. 

Personal time is vital for the French. This includes family and leisure activities, generous annual leaves, and public holidays. 

With the French prioritizing personal time, family, and leisure activities, you should also make the most of the generous annual leave and public holidays. After all, everyone in France has the right to at least five weeks of vacation per year.

  • Policy

French laws respect and shield the thirty-five hour per week work hour limit. Legally, overtime is not recommended. If they do overtime, the compensation is done. 

National holidays and paid time off also exist in France. French workers have at most five weeks’ worth of paid time off. In comparison with other people from other countries, five weeks off can be a dream. The average American gets less than five weeks off. 

France has longer lunch breaks, as the lunch servings tend to be more significant. In the United States, lunch is a quick snack. In France, it’s different. Instead, it is considered already a whole serving of a meal. 

  • The Right To Disconnect

The Right to Disconnect Law was introduced in France in 2017. It is a policy stating that in companies with over fifty employees, employees are not allowed to send or read emails after work. The law also acts as a legal protection of work boundaries. Due to policies in place to respect and protect their free time, the French value efficiency in working. Around the clock, they make the most of their time.

  • The Standard of Living

It is “good to be French” due to France’s standard of living. France certainly does a commendable job regarding work-life balance, safety, social connections, and civic engagement, as the OECD said in its 2020 Better Life Index. The French have more than the OECD average, but Americans possess increased expendable income. 

French people have longer lifespans than Americans. In France, in 2020, it was eighty-three years old. In the United States, on the other hand, it is seventy-nine. This means the French retiree can benefit from their pension, despite Macron’s raising the retirement age to sixty-four. 

France ranks second to Italy in terms of time spent on personal care and leisure. Meanwhile, the United States is at No. 29. Among leisure, French people have ways to do self-care, with skincare and physical fitness among them. Bioderma and SVR are among the skincare staples in France. 

  • Philosophy in Work 

It is often said that the French work to live while Americans live to work. Americans perceive work as a way to receive healthcare and a sense of identity. In comparison, the search for pleasure and quality of life are crucial and thus come together. To them, living is more important. 

  • Work Etiquette

When at work, the French approach work as a means of living and with the right attitude. They are professional and express this in their communication and appearance. More importantly, how one dresses for work in France is crucial. Dressing smart won’t hurt—it’s also part of the French culture. 

The French are very hardworking, proud of their work, and professional. Their appearance and communication methods show this. They also speak English and French, especially the latter, when conducting business. We recommend brushing up on your French if you intend to take working in France seriously. 

  • Wrapping Up

Working the French way is quite different from the usual American way. The philosophy behind how they treat work and value work-life balance is something that we can learn and benefit from. It also indicates how important it should be to savor our lives and the small, good moments we experience.