back to article France bans managers from contacting workers outside business hours

A new agreement between employer organizations and labor unions in France has made it illegal for French managers to contact their employees about work-related matters outside of normal business hours. The agreement [PDF], which amends an existing pact signed in 1999, specifies that employees must have "the opportunity to …


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  1. Steve Crook

    Up the creek without paddle...

    You have to admire the French for sticking to their guns. But someone really should let them know that most of the rest of the planet isn't operating according to French working hours or playing by the same rules. God help them if this is Hollande's big idea for turning around the French economy.

    1. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge

      Re: Up the creek without paddle...

      Agreed. There's a reason that French owned firms are building up their faculties outside of France.

    2. Don Jefe

      Re: Up the creek without paddle...

      You know what the least valuable people I've ever worked with think? That working 'harder' and 'longer' and playing 'Keeping up With the Jones' is how they'll pay off the mortgage on the 4,500 sq ft house they've mistaken for what wealthy people live in.

      Being 'successful' has got fuck all to do with any culture or education or drive or anything else. Success is a goal you set internally and you change the world around you to meet that goal. You want to be the guy who busts his ass for 30 years to finally make it to a six figure salary and be satisfied that he's made the big time? That's cool man. If that's success for you then great!

      Without people like you, people would call me at home with some non life threatening bullshit and I hate firing people. Just hate it. Without people like you, Jaques would have to answer the phone and walk you through why the spreadsheet you keep track of toner use with doesn't like dividing by zero instead of playing with his kids or his wife. Or even just eating mayonnaise straight from the jar while masturbating in a bubble bath listening to Eric Bogle. You know, something he considers worthwhile. Helping you on your road to clinical depression, impotence and an extra $5k a year isn't high on his list of priorities, and it shouldn't be.

      You know what the most valuable people you'll ever work with do? Figure out how to get more done by doing less. People who work harder and harder and harder always end up getting less and less and less done as time passes. Then they get all bent out of shape when they stop getting promoted and the management is obviously biased against staff who isn't young.

      The reality is, management is biased against the fat whiny fuckers that have been sitting in the same chair for five years and haven't figured out a way to do their job more effectively but yet expect more money for doing the same thing everyday.

      So here's the thing, either figure out a way to do a lot more with a lot less, or just do less and find fulfillment in things that don't require you to sacrifice everything good about being alive so that you can bitch about how much better everyone else has it than you. If you're getting called at home and you aren't a life critical first responder or getting paid a metric fuckton of money for your availability you're doing it wrong. Napoleon didn't tolerate being awakened for trivial things or when people had already died, he did OK. I don't tolerate it, I've done OK. Maybe you should try it. Gives you time to figure out how to excel, instead of fester. You'll see. But if you're buying in to the 'work harder' bullshit you should make sure you pick a drug or alcohol that's affordable when you're up to your ears in debt and your kids are anxiety driven loons from watching you destroy yourself trying to pay for their school and your Cialis.

      1. Salts

        Re: Up the creek without paddle...

        @ Don Jefe

        Total agree.

        As the old saying goes, 'Do you work to live or live to work'

        1. dan1980

          Re: Up the creek without paddle...

          @Don Jefe

          Unlike Salts, I cannot totally agree.

          While listening to Eric Bogle is fine, when you do so you should be quietly contemplating the beauty of the great country of Australia. Wistfulness is encouraged (and all but impossible to avoid) if one is anywhere but the aforementioned jewel of this otherwise crude sphere.

          I suppose the mayonnaise might be acceptable but I would suggest a Chiko roll instead. Or, if it's a sweet tooth that needs satisfying, a Cherry Ripe might be the way to go.

          1. SisterClamp

            Re: Up the creek without paddle...

            Chiko roll? How gauche. You'll be talking about nibbling Nobby's Nuts soon. Violet Crumble, dear.

          2. Don Jefe

            Re: Up the creek without paddle...


            Until last December I had never heard of Eric Bogle, but I've since devoted vast resources to discovering the source of his power. See, this is no shit, last December Eric Bogle tracks began playing on my Pandora One stations, which hadn't happened previously. It's not that I dislike him, or his music, but I'm 99% certain his music shouldn't be playing on some of those stations, it's just a poor fit.

            Shoddy algorithms aren't the problem though. The issue is much deeper, which is why it has captured my curiosity. My wife has a lot of the same stations on her Pandora account, but she uses a free account. She also doesn't get Eric Bogle tracks on her stations. I've verified this for myself.

            At first I thought the issue may be related to our individual up/downvoting preferences, but neither of us do that very much, at all. Pandora serves as enjoyable ambiance for us, it's not something we're likely to diddle with much.

            Having ruled out some sort of less than perfect automated calculations as well as preferential weighting Occam's Razor dictates I'm left with Eric Bogle being either the shadow force behind Pandora or some manner of Aboriginal spirit disguised as a short, plumpy, bearded Caucasian who roams the Earth seeking retribution for the evils done by the White Devils of the past.

            Regardless of my ultimate findings, I don't think I'll expose Eric Bogle as the dark force powering Pandora or disclose that Eric Bogle may be an ancient, dark spirit intent on eliminating the White Man from existence. I will respect Eric Bogle's wishes and keep his malevolent intentions and dark desires a secret, in hopes that he will spare me and my family when he brings Cthulhu once more into the world.

            1. dan1980

              Re: Up the creek without paddle...

              Yeah, you have to steer around the white guilt sentiments - something I manage by avoiding his entire catalogue wherever possible.

              Regarding Pandora, can't you just ask it why it chose any particular song?

              Sure, it might spew forth white noise and a sick light but it might also tell you it chose it because of its "major key tonality" or some such.

        2. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart

          Re: Up the creek without paddle...

          As the old saying goes, 'Do you work to live or live to work'

          Well I think I have addressed that problem, I have no quality of life and I balance that by doing no work.

        3. Bradley Hardleigh-Hadderchance
          Thumb Up

          'Do you work to live or live to work'

          I don't fucking work at all.

          Solves that little dilemma for me.

        4. halfbaked

          Re: Up the creek without paddle...

          MU - Un-ask the question

          Because your question implies that working and living are distinct and incompatible activities.

          I am sure that is true for some. But for many work is an avenue for self expression, exercising their talents and benefiting society. That does not mean that they should be enslaved to it for 24 hours a day, However individuals should have the right to put in out of hours effort when a crisis arises, to help out their customers or their colleagues.

      2. Intractable Potsherd

        Re: Up the creek without paddle... @ Don Jefe

        I don't know if I entirely understood your post - I think is said "work as hard as you need to in order to meet your goals". If so, I tend to agree. In all my recent work (I used to be a nurse with an on-call rota for some of it), I have tended to do that. I know that at certain times of the academic year I will, in all conscience, need to be available after hours to support students coming up to deadlines, deal with revisions to new coursework etc, and that could be email or phone. It is certainly annoying when, as at a recent employer - a new college - the work was supposed to have been done by a consultant (mate of the manager) for a small fortune, who did the course outlines and then walked away, leaving me and a colleague to write the coursework for the students, for three courses. However, our duty was to the students - those 60+hour weeks of teaching, marking, writing the work, supporting new students and developing extra-curricular activities were for someone else's benefit - and there was something heroic about ensuring the coursework was up on the VLE to meet the students' timetables. There was nothing "life-saving" about it, but it was affirming and useful.

        In another job, I needed to conduct telephone calls with a university in California, which meant a week of late nights to deal with lawyers etc - but it helped the project out of a (big) hole. Once again, not life-saving, but affirming, useful, and exciting.

        In short, *I* choose when I work. I want the option to put in the extra mile (or ten) to help make something I'm involved in a success. I do not want some legislator deciding that my project is going to fail because of a stupid general rule (that would end in me doing the work unpaid because the audit would show it up if I was paid). I am the one who decides whether and when I respond to any email or text or phone. I know I'm not the only one, and find it hard to understand the mind-set that works like I described above *all the time*. I'm unlikely to send out or answer emails after 9pm, and only by arrangement ring anyone after that time, even friends. So, if this is what you mean in your post, I agree.

      3. Squander Two

        Re: Up the creek without paddle... @ Don Jefe

        Don Jefe,

        What you don't understand is that the French's productivity-killing employment rules are not a result of large-scale union membership. Instead, some idealistic fuckwit decided to constitutionally guarantee trade union power in the government. In the UK, there may be a bit of back-and-forth about how much power the unions wield (Labour's Clause 4), but ultimately their power is always based, to some extent, on how many members they have. The French actually have very low union membership -- of course they do: when the unions have power guaranteed regardless, why would they waste their time on recruitment drives? These French laws are not generally brought in due to pressure from workers. And, in fact, there have been plenty of cases of French workers fighting the unions, because they don't want their employers' companies to fail. In one case, factory workers got around the restriction on working hours by drawing up an agreement with their employer to work unpaid overtime -- had the overtime been paid, it would have been illegal.

        So, whilst your point about choosing work/life balance is all very well, the problem in France is precisely that no-one is free to do so.

      4. Ralph B

        @ Don Jefe - Re: Up the creek without paddle...

        The same message in video form: Slomo.

      5. Steve Crook

        Re: Up the creek without paddle...

        @Don Jefe

        Wow, did I touch a nerve?

        You manage to infer an awful lot from a couple of sentences. The the point I was making, but that you chose to ignore, was that the French economy is not working in splendid isolation (or indeed working much at all), the French people aren't expecting to sacrifice standard of living to avoid an inconvenient phone call from work. So far at least, they're not doing more with sufficiently less to be able to prop up the fat, comfortable and bloated state and associated political class that they are lumbered with.

        In my last job I didn't *expect* to receive a call from work during the middle of the evening, but as the company had customers in the US and far east I had to accept that it was a possibility and be prepared to deal with it. That said, I have never wanted to devote my life to work, I have other, better, fish to fry.

        Hollande has an economy that's struggling. He needs to do *something* about it, and has to date, done not much at all except enact legislation that will make it that little bit harder to attract inward investment.

        1. Don Jefe

          Re: Up the creek without paddle...

          @ Steve Crook

          Yes. You touched a nerve a bit there. I'm not nearly as big an asshole as some of my labor related posts sometimes make me seem, I promise.

          My issue with all this is that, globally, labor (as in work, not political leanings) has become increasingly more of an extremely polarized, them vs us, kind of thing and that's bullshit. It's ineffective at best and costs so much money that it's disgusting. It would be funny if so many people didn't get run over by it all.

          You can see it in the comments here and in actions like this in France (Incidentally, the French are, without question, the most technically capable country in Europe. The Germans are a close second, but they tend to be more about scale and efficiency, not absolute best in class. I always look to France first, then Germany and Japan when I'm looking for new staff. So they're not doing everything wrong). You've got employers demanding 'more', far faster than they give to employees, and employees who feel that their only viable response is something equally as drastic, and they're not wrong.

          The problem is the situation is a mutual destruction scenario and that's got to be addressed first. Somebody has got to pull back and I put that on the employers 100%. See, when you're in a position of power you aren't 'giving in' when you meet the demands of your subjects. You're demonstrating your strength by showing that what they consider to be great treasure is back of the couch money for you. It also shows you're not scared of empowering them and being overthrown. It's the actions of cowards and great leaking vaginas who can maintain control and realize financial, and influence, expansion only by taking instead of giving.

          So the employers have to act like real gentlemen and back down off the worker. If they feel they need more then let's see how smart the employers really are. Use your heads to get 'more', not dishonorable behavior, which is all a rich man asking for something from a poor man is. Dishonorable cowardice, weakness in the face of challenge and I've got no use for such people.

          A Man who is willing to do a job, no matter what the job is, should be able to do it and provide for himself and his family while still having a chance to live a decent life, with decent education, health, shelter, food and security and have the opportunity to explore, travel and just be alive without being trampled by a society that's too busy downloading mobile apps to actually enjoy life, as opposed to the moments between work and getting home from work.

          Should that man get a Bugatti just for being alive? No. I had to bust my ass for mine, just like I did for everything else I've won. And 'won' is the right word. I've challenged great men and situations and used my abilities, and gained new skills to come out on top enough that I get cool stuff. But that's what it is, stuff. The spoils of honorable conflict and fuck you, those are my right. I am entitled because I won. But that's a choice and while it's nice to think it was 'all me', there was a hell of a lot of luck involved too,

          But if you don't want to devote your one life to those sorts of challenges your fate shouldn't be dependent on 'luck' to have a quality life with a reasonable level of love, happiness, freedom and safety. Those mewling little quims who complain about the cost of things like healthcare, education, basic Human fucking dignity have no place in my world. I see absolutely no difference between a person who complains about tax dollars going to care for the stupid, the poor, the unlucky, the old, the black, the Jew, the Irishman, Scot or Muslim than I do in a rapist or murderer. Both are taking and/or preventing someone from having, something special from another Human and I fucking hate them all for it.

          I give a lot to charity, but I spend more hunting down and harassing the nasty, greedy bastards who make life miserable for others. I can't kill them, because they couldn't learn better behavior if they're dead. But I can sure as shit make life as miserable for them as they make it for others. Again, it's my treasure, I can use it how I please. I actively encourage others with the means to do so as well.

          If one chooses to bust their ass in pursuit of wealth and power, then that's fine, commendable even. But it's wholly unacceptable to make simply being alive and not wanting to kill yourself for a meager existence of strife and poverty a punishment. There's more than enough to go around and if the only way a person thinks they can 'get ahead' or 'get their fair share' then I've got no use for them. Just like I've got no use for those who do pursue a life of wealth but blame others for their own lack of ability if they don't meet their goals or who say they can't make it without guarantees. Them be the risks. Accept them or don't come play near my space and don't dare think about taking from someone who isn't your equal or whining about the price of success, which is benevolent giving to those who don't sign on for a lifetime of conflict.

          So yeah, I do feel strongly about the basic rights of Man. This article was also engineered as link bait on a controversial subject to foster the 'user generated content' and I wanted to be generous to the hard working staff at El Reg by engaging in some well engineered trolling to get everybody's hackles up. It would seem I have been successful. I shall now reward 36 hours of grueling, tedious work overseeing the transfer of 19,000 liters of He-3 into our new mirror production facility by consuming 750ml of bourbon. It is 9:40 Sunday morning after all. I don't do Sunday appointments until after 11:00 AM you see :)

          1. dan1980

            Re: Up the creek without paddle...

            19,000 litres? That is a lot of He-3!!!

            Well, unless this 'liter' measurement is something else . . .

      6. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up

        Re: Up the creek without paddle...

        DonJefe, That was well, well worth the read. Have an upvote.

      7. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart

        Re: Up the creek without paddle...

        @Don Jefe Which Eric Bogle song would that be Don?

        ● And the Band Played Walzing Wanking Matilda

        ● No Man's Land Hand

        ● Scraps of (tissue) Paper

        ● Now I'm Easy

        ● I Hate Wogs Frogs

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      My phone

      Is on 24/7, but hey that's what being self employed is all about.

      I'm not lucky enough to be able to rely on a company or state payout every month, I actually have to work for a living.

      1. Psyx

        Re: My phone

        "I'm not lucky enough to be able to rely on a company or state payout every month, I actually have to work for a living."

        I think I speak for every non-self-employed person who works hard reading this when I say 'bog off': Being your own boss doesn't magically mean you work harder than any of the rest of us.

        And if you're too obsessed with your own business to have the sense to turn off your phone and enjoy your free time, that's your own fault and lack of discipline.

      2. h4rm0ny

        Re: My phone

        I was about to ask a question about the self-employed, actually. Anyone know if this applies to contractors who lease their services? Because if it doesn't, I'm tempted to move to Paris for a couple of years and clean up.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: My phone

        > that's what being self employed is all about.

        I'm also self-employed. Business communications are only via email and occasionally SMS¹. That way you can get in touch with me whenever you want, but I choose when to read them and when (if) to reply.

        I've been doing--as Mr. Jefe puts it--OK, thank you².

        ¹ And face to face, obviously.

        ² There are times when 24/7 is what it's all about too, however, as those involved in start-ups can probably attest. One must not confuse projects with operations though.

    4. LarsG

      Anyone remember that loss making French Tyre factory that had to close down due to lack of productivity.

      Some American was asked to put it right and get the business into profitability.

      The French Unions vetoed every idea he put forward.

      Slightly longer working week? Non.

      Cut back on breaks? Non.

      Up productivity? Non.

      Weekend working? Non.

      Increase in shift hours? Non.

      The average worker in the factory attended 5 days a week, 7 hours per day.

      During each 7 hour working day he had 2x coffee breaks of 30 mins and a 2 hour lunch break.

      Total productive time was less than 4 hours per day because another 20 minutes was wasted getting back from the breaks.

      So the average 'working day' at the coal face so to speak was 3 hours 40 minutes or the equivalent to 18 hours and 20 minutes.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        It got worse.

        The workers later trapped the Americans inside the factory and refused to let them go until the company agreed to not shut the plant down.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        > Anyone remember that loss making French Tyre factory that had to close down due to lack of productivity.

        No. The only French tyre maker I can think of are Michelin, and they have most definitely not closed down.

        Unless you can give more details, one will have to assume you are repeating a urban legend.

        Besides, for all their abundance of faults, the frogs are rather productive people even if they don't work many hours. They may take a 1-1.5 hour lunch, but they do all the talking and socialising there instead of procrastinating throughout the day as one had the habit to in, e.g., Blighty.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Up the creek without paddle... @Steve Crook

      You seem to be getting downvotes for stating the obvious so have an upvote from me.

      What you have to realise is that during the week most of the traffic on here comes from state employees sitting at their desks with very little to do. These people yearn for the same terms and conditions that the French worker can expect. The fact that they do even less when sitting at their desks is neither here nor there. They also see Miliband as their saviour and hope he will emulate Hollande's economic miracle.

      You will note that after 12.30pm on Friday afternoons these kind of downvotes stop, simply beacause the public sector have all gone home and traffic to El Reg drops by 85%.

      I rest my case m'lud.

      1. Don Jefe

        Re: Up the creek without paddle... @Steve Crook

        Ah. The plight of the private sector employee. Far to busy to spend time on a news site that actually provides useful information about your industry. A site that provides such useful information that the opinions of the readership are considered by some VC groups to be a good telltale when assessing potential investments.

        But that's OK, because the private sector and it's 30-45 year middle management demographic is necessary to support sites like Amazon, eBay and Facebook. Without the sacrifices made by the private sector to keep those people employed, even though they serve no profitable or even useful function, everyone's taxes would be higher. Without those hearty souls who toil, ceaselessly at simple tasks they can never seem to get ahead of, cheap beer would have nobody to cry with and conservative politicians would have to actually contribute instead of take from others under the guise of rewarding societies largest contributors.

        Without those people who cannot discriminate between working more and getting more work done entire sectors of industries would never have been created. The PalmPilot! Think of it! If people who were so busy they needed to keep up to the minute schedules, but whose actual accomplishments couldn't justify paying someone to do that for them an entire wing of pharmacuticle companies making blood pressure meds specifically for dead end HR anchors and commercial liabilities would never have sprung into being.

        Let us all stop, for a moment of silent introspection, and consider the sacrifices made by those hard private sector workers who were left behind when their employers sent their jobs to China. Be thankful for those people, because the 1 in 5,000 of them who ever gain a position of power or decent income are also responsible for driving the extremely deluded fools who work away entire lifetimes and never get any work done. Thank you Private Sector Man, thank you! Without you my investment portfolio would have no ebay or Vauxhall interests and without those I might have to sell my bourbon distillery or cut back on my intern pay rates and you wouldn't want that. My interns will be your employer in a few years and I go through great lengths and enormous expense to erase pettiness and greed from them. Maybe you should be paying me, as I'm quite certain that without pity from your current employer you would be jobless and an even bigger drain on society. You owe me for keeping mercy alive in the workplace.

      2. bigtimehustler

        Re: Up the creek without paddle... @Steve Crook

        If your working hard for yourself, that a different thing to working hard for a company or boss that will never respect it or give you what you deserve for it. They never will do and the people who say no get the same treatment, I say no these days, I never used to but my career is going just as good as it did when I used to work stupid hours. If anything I would say im respect more now than I used to be. Oh, I work in the private sector too, a mixture of startup companies and larger corporations and the same holds true for both. So yea, you work hard and all the hours when its your business and directly your success your working for, not when its someone elses.

        Of course, as a disclaimer, working hard here means the long hours and out of hours demands, you make sure you hit the deadlines during the normal working day, always advise on the correct timescales and only when stupid demands are made do you refuse.

      3. K

        "I rest my case m'lud."

        Brilliant! +1

        Be interesting to see how many down votes you get after midday.. currently at 6 :)

      4. Roo

        Re: Up the creek without paddle... @Steve Crook

        "I rest my case m'lud."

        Refusing to identify yourself has earned you 10 years in the clink for contempt of court. ;)

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Down

        Re: Up the creek without paddle... @Steve Crook

        Well I'm still here, and so are the masses of State fed drones I work with. your case looks like gorgonzola and smells like it too

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Up the creek without paddle... @Lostyearsago

          I see that you might still be there, overtime till 3.30 perhaps, but you still have time to post, maybe you don't have enough to do!

          I ready my case M'lud.

      6. RobHib

        @A.C. -- Re: Up the creek without paddle... @Steve Crook

        "What you have to realise is that during the week most of the traffic on here comes from state employees sitting at their desks with very little to do."

        Of course, it's very easy to say that as an Anonymous Coward. I don't work in the public sector but years ago I did for a while. Your comment wasn't true then, and it's even less so now for the majority of public sector employees. With governments having cut so many staff in recent decades, if anything many are overloaded.

        I'm not denying there aren't small pockets within the public sector that could be given a hefty kick in the A., but by some stats many large corporations are actually worse in this regard. If you want to discuss real inefficiencies in the workforce then it's employing incompetents rather than lazy workers (often the case as they're cheaper).

        I won't go into details as it would identify the operation but several days ago I had a phone conversation that lasted the better part of an hour with a very large commercial outfit--it was the third such conversation in about a month over the same issue and it still remains unresolved.

        I'm totally lost for words to describe this conversation, and no one would believe me if I could. It'd have tested Shannon's to the limit--words were transferred but information wasn't: monkeys, typewriters and the works of Shakespeare also come to mind! If I'd had a recorder running over it, I'd have YouTube'd it. Whilst it's my worst personal experience on record, it's far from being the only one of this kind with commercial outfits--by comparison my most exasperating conversation with a government department would never gotten a look-in.

        It would be very interesting indeed to have a handle on those stats you're suggesting. For, obvious reasons, it's very unlikely El Reg would ever publish them, unfortunately. Things aren't usually as obvious as they seem, for instance I'm posting this now from GMT/UTC+10:00. Now check the time posted and see how that fits in with your supposition.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @A.C. -- Up the creek without paddle... @RobHib

          Actually the downvotes slowed down by 1pm and then became stagnant after 3pm.

          I confess that I have run this little experiment a number of times, though this time I was more subtle, I didn't mention The Guardian, tree hugging or left leaning, the three things associated with the public sector worker. I also steered clear of sandals and beards which I reserve for the lab-lib chattering class.

          In all my experiments, the statistics do not lie.

          Posting a perceived slight against public sector workers Or Labour/Liberal political policy during working hours Monday to Thursday taking into account job share and flexi-time, downvotes exceed upvotes by almost 8-1.

          Post on a Friday it becomes a relatively small 3-1 ratio until around 2pm whereby the upvotes begin to even things out to almost 1-1.

          My conclusion, public sector workers have already gone home. This also equates to my experience in working at a Government facility where I was told that the best time to start was at 2pm on the Friday because the offices would be clear. I arrived at 1.30pm and everyone had gone home.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @A.C. -- Up the creek without paddle... @RobHib

            > In all my experiments, the statistics do not lie.

            Pull the other one. :)

  2. Flip

    9 to 5

    "For today at least, however, French workers are free to switch off their phones and log out of their email the moment they leave the office."

    They couldn't do this before? Unless it's in their contract to be available 24/7, why wouldn't anyone in any country do the same?

    1. MrXavia

      Re: 9 to 5

      Exactly what I was thinking, unless your contracted to be on call AND are being paid to be on call, why would you answer your phone or reply to emails??

      1. big_D Silver badge

        Re: 9 to 5

        If it is a company phone, it is "expected".

        1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

          Re: 9 to 5

          'If it is a company phone, it is "expected".'

          So you go and hand it back - I did it in my previous job and I do not hold a company phone in my current job. I expense company use when I have to.

          In any case, as far as working hours determining everything - there are industries where they do. IT is not one of them. In IT the worst productivity per capita is in the areas where they work longest hours.

        2. Sooty

          Re: 9 to 5

          I have a company phone and, unless i am explicitly rota'd on and being paid to support out of hours i choose whether to answer it or not. But then, from my contract, the moment i answer it i get a minimum of 2 hours of time and a half, or doubletime depending when the call is, so i do usually answer if it's someone in my team calling, rather than a manager.

        3. Tom 7

          Re: 9 to 5

          "If it is a company phone, it is "expected"." If its not in the contract!

          I was given one - the boss asked me why I never answered it so I asked him where my change in contract with the on call arrangements etc was. Until I got one it would at home next to the landline.

          Given the only times he called me where when he was drunk and confused about his own name down the pub we both came off better.

          Mobile phones just seem to waste time - too easy to ask someone else the wrong question than think for 10 seconds. Bit like IT in general - makes too many lines of least resistance and we get a lot of frantic ineffective activity. Used well its a great tool. Used by a tool...

        4. Psyx

          Re: 9 to 5

          "If it is a company phone, it is "expected"."

          Then refuse the company phone, or pointedly leave it on your desk every evening.

          Their supplying of a £30 phone does not entitle them to you doing free overtime.

          If you are expected to answer a company phone out of hours then you seriously need to hand it back or do some negotiating.

        5. David Cantrell

          Re: 9 to 5

          "Oh how awful, I didn't hear it ring".

          1. Psyx

            Re: 9 to 5

            "Oh how awful, I didn't hear it ring".

            Not something I'm personally comfortable doing, or would recommend because it means you're letting someone down. If you're being rung on a work phone out of hours it tends to be important, and ignoring it is inconveniencing someone and annoying them: Bad Karma.

            More to the point: If you never had any intention of answering it, their expectation is at odds with your intention. And them finding that out at a crucial moment is not going to work out too well for either party: You are both annoyed and there may be fall out.

            You need to lay it down *beforehand* that you won't answer the phone at weekends and leave it on your desk. That way your manager won't be blaming you for not answering, but will be blaming the person who expected help from someone who had made it clear in advance that it would not be forthcoming.

            Sometimes it's best to state your intentions in advance.

        6. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: 9 to 5

          Company phone or not, I'm employed officially 9 to 5 Mon-Fri, those are the hours I have to answer the company phone.

          What ever I DECIDE to do beyond that is my CHOICE and best effort if I decide to answer a mail at 3am on Sunday morning.

          If I ever receive any comment I didn't picked up or answer a mail promptly outside my contract hours, my phone would clearly be switched off Sat-Sun.

      2. bigtimehustler

        Re: 9 to 5

        Indeed, I have never even given my mobile number to anyone at work and i have never sycned my work email to my mobile. When im out the office, im out the office. Unless of course you want to renegotiate my contract, which will cost you.

        As for them handing me a work phone? So what? If they handed you a desk would you sit at it and work all night?

    2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: 9 to 5

      Unless it's in their contract to be available 24/7, why wouldn't anyone in any country do the same?

      Exactly. My boss is 6 timezone hours away from me. We both take a very reasonable position, phones have an off switch for a reason. When we're happy to be contacted, during the day or otherwise, we leave the phone on. When we feel it's time to be off-duty, with family or whatever, we turn them off. Anyone who calls can leave a message. In special circumstances, maybe an unhappy customer, we arrange to make an extra effort.

      Sometimes I do conf calls at 11pm. Sometimes I decide "fuck it" and turn the phone off at 4pm. My choice, and I'm fortunate to have a boss who feels the same way. So did the boss before him. It's called a "decent job". As long as I get my work done, when I said I'd do it, no problems.

      1. kiwimuso

        Re: 9 to 5

        @ Phil O'Sophical

        Indeed. Sadly this idea of a company phone has it's drawbacks - like the fuckwit who answered his in the middle of a movie in a theatre, without bothering to leave. Having not even bothered to switch it to silent or vibrate, he then proceeded to have a loud conversation, until I asked him to either shut up, or leave, to which he replied "I'm on call!"

        My mind has never been so boggled.

        No apologies that he might just have annoyed the shit out of the rest of the patrons who had gone along expecting to see a movie without external commentary.

        Even more sadly, none of the staff bothered to intervene to ease other customer's annoyance at said dick-head.

        As far as being contacted out of hours. My philosophy was always " I am quite willing to contribute my time in hours of need, but, at the same time, don't push your luck. I have signed a contract with the company for 40 (or whatever) hours per week, and that's all you get unless it suits me, which it quite often did, but just don't expect, as of right, that I will be contactable at will."

        Companies are all too keen to insist that we abide by the contract provisions, but I found that some managers really did push their luck. I guess it made them look good to the higher ups - at our expense of course.

        Having said that, many is the time that I have been called in when the shit hit the fan, and worked for possibly 24 hours straight (along with the rest of our group) to correct, a serious problem, sometimes even recreating data manually.

    3. Squander Two

      Re: 9 to 5

      My attitude is that it depends on salary and responsibility and reciprocity. I've done jobs where there was no way I'd answer the phone to work outside hours, as the pay didn't justify it. I've also done jobs where I've told my team they can call me on holiday if there are problems, because it was my job to help them, because I was responsible not only for their day-to-day work but also for the overall performance of the team and therefore the likelihood of our contracts being extended or of our getting mroe staff, because I knew they wouldn't abuse it, because I knew they'd do the same for me, and because I was getting the sort of money where being a jobsworth would frankly be unreasonable. In short, I'm fine with a bit of give and take. It's all give no take that's a problem.

      1. bigtimehustler

        Re: 9 to 5

        Yes, but this is your team giving and taking with each other, thats fine. But you don't mention whether the company as a whole actually repay you for being this type of manager. My guess is, you would be just as successful within the organisation regardless of whether you did this or not. Your team may not like you if you did, but I doubt much would change as far as the company is concerned (as long as your still hitting deadlines of course).

        1. Squander Two

          Re: 9 to 5

          > But you don't mention whether the company as a whole actually repay you for being this type of manager.

          Er, yes I did, actually: I specifically mentioned pay.

          > My guess is, you would be just as successful within the organisation regardless of whether you did this or not.

          So you didn't read the bit about contract renewals either, then.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Allowable overtime means they can creep up to almost 40 hours?

    Currently on 12 hour shifts 7 days a week for the next month or so but more normally on 9-10 hour days 5 days a week. A 35 hour week would worse than halve my pay and mean I had less time to accomplish things, significantly lowering job satisfaction. Due to 'office hours' being kept by services like banks, hairdressers, etc I wouldnt even be able to use my time away from work more productively with this shorter week. So miserable and more free time? That'll be more Gin for me, please.

    And under this they'd remove my evening/weekend callout payment as well? Scrap all the informal interdepartmental 'giving a hand' stuff that helps us work better together?

    Trade Unions really are shitty for workers, aren't they?

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: Allowable overtime means they can creep up to almost 40 hours?

      That's exactly why the 35-hour week screwed the very workers that it was supposed to be for, the ones who vote socialist.

      Martine Aubry (daughter of Jaques Delors, of Sun headline fame), who introduced it, initially suggested that it would reduce unemployment because companies would have to hire additional staff to make up for the 'lost' hours. After that was ridiculed by economists she changed tack and said it was a "progressive social measure to give French workers more leisure time". At which point the white-collar unions, whose members are not paid hourly, asked how their members would benefit from this increased leisure time. The result was an extra 5-12 days per year of "special" vacation for white-collar staff.

      Then the blue-collar unions pointed out that it would be unfair for their staff to have their pay cut by being obliged to work fewer hours, and threatened strikes, result was that they got paid the same for 35 hours as they would have done for 39. This included raising the minimum wage. At that point the employers realised that they couldn't afford to hire additional staff, and the least-worst option would be to offer overtime pay to the existing staff, to get them back to 39 hours. Since this would make it look even more stupid, the government placed limits on overtime to avoid the whole exercise being moot.

      Unfortunately, lots of very low-paid people had been used to doing large amounts of overtime, 10+ hours a week, to make ends meet. They got really screwed since they lost almost all of it (or moved to the black market, paid under the table, and hence not paying tax on it).

      End result is that the hourly-paid workers who voted the government into power came off worst, the employers' costs went up, and the white-collar workers who would normally vote for the rightwingers were laughing all the way to the beach. Needless to say when Sarkozy came to power and tried to relax the 35-hour rules to make France more productive it was the very people who supported him that refused. Helped by the blue-collar unions who promptly said that if their members were going to work more hours in a week they obviously expected more money...

      The only real downside was that those white-collar workers with the extra vacation didn't actually see their workload decreasing, they just had to do it in fewer days, hence each working day got longer. That, presumably, is the reason for this new legislation.

      The whole thing is a gigantic clusterfuck, from an economically incompetent government, greedy intransigent unions, and 19th century labour laws. And the government still can't understand why the economy is in the shit, the president has a record-beating 19% popularity rating, and the Front National had their best ever score in the municipal elections.

      1. Don Jefe

        Re: Allowable overtime means they can creep up to almost 40 hours?

        I'm curious, how does it work that I am able to make plenty of money, pay every single one of my staff top of their field pay and have a bonus program that in 2013 paid 26 of my 53 technical staff each more than $1M and has done so for at least 7 staff members for each of the programs 10 years in place?

        Why am I not dependent on government handouts or whims to make my money? Cause that's what tax breaks, depressed minimum wages and longer work weeks are you know. Government handouts to businesses that either can't hack it in a competitive marketplace, or are so greedy they feel entitled to take advantage of their staff and fellow tax paying countrymen.

        See, because I don't blame others for my failures, or successes it doesn't engender a lot of goodwill on my part when I see people who make just as much, or more, than their peers, lined up to lobby a government for intervention on their behalf when it obviously isn't necessary to do so. See, when you do that, it makes people like me have to cover your ineptitude by increasing my tax burden.

        I don't complain about taxes. Sure, it's a lot of money I give the government every year, but it's a tiny fraction of what I get to keep. It's just another cost, no different than the railcars I had built to haul our goods or our plane or our equipment, nobody is handing that stuff out for free. I don't expect anyone to pay bills for me or create a captive market for me. I'll do that myself. Why can't you? Is it ineptitude? Mediocrity? Laziness? Idiocy?

        It's something, because running out and crying for help (cut my taxes, make my staff work longer, etc...) isn't anywhere on my list of things to do today. I'll making money. Today I guess it's spending money, they're coming to fill the helium tanks that will cool the lasers in our new mirror polishing line. By this time next year I'll be turning out some of the most highly polished, maybe the most precisely polished metal mirrors made anywhere on the planet. Four years of design and investment all paid for out of my own pocket. Nary a government handout or guaranteed contract in sight. Nope, just what I see as a market that needs to be addressed and in a few years some of your country's tax dollars will be living in my bank. Know why? Because I'm doing something useful and taking risks on my own dime and nobody has to deal with the aerospace globocorps. Yeah, we do the really complex stuff for those guys, they like to make their money with contract voodoo, we make ours through excellence. It works out well.

        So tell me, oh impoverished soul, hero of working hard, but getting no work done class, why I don't need someone to blame for holding me back? In the distance I can see the roofs of my two nearest neighbors and they're not going to come out for drinks this afternoon with a pocket full of excuses why they haven't gotten what they wanted from life. They've got the same attitude every successful person I've ever met has; and that's that there's nobody to blame but yourself.

        I know you hate to hear it, but it's true. What gives you the right to make my taxes higher so I can support your impoverished enterprise, greed, ineptitude or a combination of all three, when it's plain as day that if you've got something valuable people will pay you for it. They'll pay you lots of money for it. More than enough to to satisfy the likes of you, that's for damn sure. I guess that's only true if you've actually got something worth having isn't it? If you don't have anything desirable then I can see how taking it from others, and getting the likes of me to pay for it, could seem like a good way to try and fill that great gaping hole in your being where pride belongs, but it won't work.

        So before you go off blaming everyone else for your situation why don't you start internally and figure out why you need a handout, and I don't. I doubt you be putting in more than my 100 hour weeks, but maybe you are. I only ask why you aren't seeing the returns you think you should on that kind of time investment? If your answer isn't you then you need to go back and look again. You're wrong.

        1. Psyx

          Re: Allowable overtime means they can creep up to almost 40 hours?

          I agree with the sentiment regarding tax and handouts, and that industry breaks are often for the lame horses.

          However, they're also for any company floated on the market, who -unlike yourself- will never have 'enough', because they are always legally obliged to seek more. Whereas you might be happy to hand out a million bucks for a job well done because - well, how are you going to find time to spend it yourself - but a company owned by shareholders would rather not. And they'd quite like a tax break, too. And a handout.

          Although -as I stated- I agree with the sentiment, I can't condone the self-righteous attitude that seems to have come with it. working 100 hours a week and having lots of money doesn't really make you a better person, so perhaps you can stow some of that.

        2. Squander Two

          "Why am I not dependent on government handouts or whims?" @ Don Jefe

          Fascinating, Don Jefe. And are we to believe that, in the course of running your preposterously successful company, you have never once given any thought about where to run your operation from? It doesn't matter at all, right? You could put your factories in Texas or Albania or Tajikistan or the Central African Republic or Cuba or Vanuatu and it would make no difference at all to your costs or efficency, because all those completely different sets of local conditions and legislation and red tape are completely immaterial, because you are doing something useful and taking risks on your own dime.

          What utter, utter bollocks.

          The problem France faces is that operating there is just too damn difficult and expensive. They're part of the EU, a single market, so, unless you want to make a foodstuff with an appellation controllee, there is no strategic advantage to basing your operations in France rather than Belgium or Italy or Germany or the UK or Poland. The day-to-day costs are higher, the unexpected costs are higher and more likely, and a whole bunch of countries whose laws won't cripple your firm (at least to anything approaching the same extent) are a few miles away. And your claim is that anyone looking at that situation and doing a quite reasonable cost/benefit analysis and choosing to build their factory in the Netherlands instead of Normandy is actually demanding a government handout to compensate them for their failure. Two questions, then: What handout? And what failure?

          Your technical staff who get $1M bonuses: they have never, even once, worked more than 35 hours a week; and they have never, even once, answered a phone call or an email after 5pm. That is what you're saying, right? Because otherwise, what on Earth could your point be?

      2. h4rm0ny

        Re: Allowable overtime means they can creep up to almost 40 hours?

        This all sounds like an especially vivid nightmare Ayn Rand would have after eating too much cheese before bedtime.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Allowable overtime means they can creep up to almost 40 hours?

        Phil: I see you're well au fait with how things work in France. Very good summary indeed.

        I would add, these labour restrictions are probably part of what they make a) France (outside tourist areas) so mindnumbingly boring on weekends, and b) rely so much on automation and self-service (think roadside F-1 motels, unattended petrol stations, etc.)

    2. AnonymousCoward94or96

      Re: Allowable overtime means they can creep up to almost 40 hours?


      People are free to use their time as it please them, just don't complain if you don't find a way to use it productively.

      Moreover, depending on the type of contract with the company, you may be required to work more, it just protect lower level staff such as technician to work without being paid.

      After all the principle is that we do a work for a company against money, not that once we sign a contract all our time belongs to a company.

      If a company ask their employee to work more, it is possible, its called over time, and with the exception of managers, every employee can claim it.

      Badly up to now, many people expect that any email they received had to be answered right away lowering their quality of life.

      I'm glad that the law allows staff to avoid them stress when they fail to reply to an email during their free time. But, if they want to reply, it's their choice.

    3. David Cantrell

      Re: Allowable overtime means they can creep up to almost 40 hours?

      > Trade Unions really are shitty for workers, aren't they?

      No, only when you permit them to do stupid things on your behalf - or you have a stupid government or employer.

      I've been in a union for over 20 years now. Not once have I permitted them to negotiate anything on my behalf, because I know that I can do better. So what do I get for my membership dues? Knowledge of what my rights are and a great insurance policy that will provide highly-trained attack lawyers if I ever have a massive falling out with an employer. And like with all insurance policies, I hope that I'm just pissing my money away and that I never have to use those lawyers.

  4. Nathan 13

    I agree

    If someone is paid from 9-5 12-8 8-12 etc then dont contact them outside their paid hours.

    1. Psyx

      Re: I agree


      But on the other hand, if someone is taking the money for call-out and doesn't pick up, I go fucking mental and take it to their boss on Monday morning. Pocketing call-out and not being able/willing to respond is fraud.

  5. Charles Manning


    These days small companies need to be agile and respond to global clients and perform tasks at all hours of the day.

    * I sometimes have conference calls at 3am local time because we're sorting out an issue with a client on the other side of the planet.

    * I used to work with a global company with development teams spread across Europe, USA and NZ. We would have to sometimes do stuff late/early just to get overlap.

    * What about trade shows etc?

    * What if you're travelling and need some office flunky to sort something out so you can make a connecting flight etc?

    Legal decrees are excessive and obstructive to business. When that happens, jobs go away and economies suffer.

    1. Don Jefe

      Re: Draconian

      'Trying' is excusing failure in advance. Do you know what 'agile' is? Agile is desperate. Agile is running blind. Agile is whoring yourself out because you can't find enough customers or clients who will pay a decent price for your offerings so you'll sell whatever you can to whoever you can for whatever you can get.

      If you want to get into commodities trading that's one thing, but if you're not choosing the jobs you take and the customers you walk away from I wonder what you're selling. I wonder why you're not asking yourself that question as well.

      If begging for customers and low balling pricing is how you're spending your time why don't you sell cars? You can make a solid six figure salary selling cars and the hours are better too. If you're an expert, if you've got the skills or the product that make you desirable put a decent fucking price tagon it and go to sleep with 1 million thread count sheets and no nightmares of foreclosure.

      It's the #1 warning sign when hiring outside contractors for anything that there's something really bad wrong if they're keen to talk up their skills and their client list but are able to meet you on site at your earliest convenience and have really great rates too... See, those things just don't hang out together in real life.

      It's like anything else, when you start adding in all the high end options and the cost doesn't make you squirm then you aren't getting high end options. There's an analogue in buying a 'fast car' from some kid with rich parents and a set of wrenches to put a bunch of bolt on parts on the car versus buying a actual fast car from those nice folks at Bugatti. Those fellows at Bugatti aren't going to answer your call in the middle of the night, or even the middle of a meal. They aren't going to rush you a car right over and make you a good deal. You want what they've got and you'll pay for it, dearly, and you'll revel in doing so. Not sweat about spending a little too much.

      I'm not trying to be insulting, and I hope I haven't been. But there are a lot of people who have all the skills and heart to run a small business, but don't know shit about business. You aren't there to do anything but make money. You don't have to act like a banker about it, but business isn't about being 'busy', business is about making money. You may get to handle a lot of money if you're running around kissing ass to get a deal done, and there's going to be some of that, for sure. But if 'agile' is part of your culture and core philosophy then handling someone else's money is all you're ever going to get to do.

      Polish your skills, act like a fucking professional and schedule the next person that calls for an after lunch slot two weeks from next Thursday and charge them for setting the appointment. If they need you now have a number ready, and it gets paid before you even put down your whisky drink and don't forget to bill them for the cab ride either. Don't drink and drive you know. The customer is always right, and no right is free. Don't you for a second think they wouldn't do the same if the roles were reversed. If customers aren't complaining about the price you're not charging enough.

      1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Re: Draconian

        Polish your skills, act like a fucking professional and schedule the next person that calls for an after lunch slot two weeks from next Thursday and charge them for setting the appointment.

        Would that be after lunch my time, or after lunch their time on the other side of the world?

        I know which one will lose the customer...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Draconian

          > I know which one will lose the customer...

          I think you might be surprised if you try it. DJ has pretty much described my own approach and what you find comes out of it is that people think you must be more valuable, because you know, tu ne te prends pas pour une merde.

          I also find that serious customers rarely attempt to contact you at unsocial times, much less expect a response. The ones that ask for the Sun and the Moon (oh, and can we have a discount too) you really want to steer clear of--they're just a waste of time.

      2. SisterClamp

        Re: Draconian

        Don darling, are you trying to woo me? 'Cos you're off to a pretty good start....

        PS El Reg, how about a fluttering eyelashes icon? Isn't it time you upgraded to animated GIFs, as antiquated as they now are?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Draconian

          "Don darling, are you trying to woo me? 'Cos you're off to a pretty good start...."

          He's certainly on a roll today. Three cheers for Don Jefe!

      3. Cpt Blue Bear

        Re: Draconian

        "'Trying' is excusing failure in advance. Do you know what 'agile' is? Agile is desperate. Agile is running blind. Agile is whoring yourself out because you can't find enough customers or clients who will pay a decent price for your offerings so you'll sell whatever you can to whoever you can for whatever you can get"

        I'm having flashbacks to my boss out of his skull on single malt scotch and Malaysian pain killers in the bar of Traders in KL on day five of a SE Asia meeting marathon.

    2. Anonymous Coward 101

      Re: Draconian

      Mr. Manning, do you bring a shiny apple for your boss every morning as well?

    3. Tom 7

      Re: Draconian

      * What if you're travelling and need some office flunky to sort something out so you can make a connecting flight etc?

      Well sounds like you need to hire a manager to manage you not a flunky.

    4. bigtimehustler

      Re: Draconian

      So you think your chance of having a successful business is more important than someones quality of life? The key term here is work smarter, not longer. If you have to respond to clients around the world, introduce remote working and employ someone in those key areas of the world. It really isn't rocket science.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Draconian

        > So you think your chance of having a successful business is more important than someones quality of life?

        I've no idea who/what you're replying to. Do fucking quote please.

        In any event, I think most of what has been discussed here boils down to "you can have a successful business AND a great quality of life".

  6. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    In principle I think they are absolutely right. Implimentation too clunky.

    Just because other people are tied to their employer whether they like it or not, doesn't make it right. Everyone needs to be able to get away from work stresses if they are to lead a healthy life. You shouldn't need to fear some form of retribution if you don't answer the phone out of hours - and that is the position far too many people are in. The more connected systems become, the worse this gets.

    1. dan1980

      The real problem is not some overt form of retribution - like being reprimanded or fired - but the more subtle forms, where managers may preference some workers over others.

      That is much harder to get rid of.

      Making it actually illegal to call employees after hours or have them work overtime does avoid those potential problems but is far too inflexible. You have to accept that many modern businesses require 'after hours' work from time to time or even routinely. While governments must accept that for the sake of the economy, they must also accept that people and their families require 'down time' - for the sake of the well being of the population.

      It is a balance and not always an easy one. That's why things usually go back and forward in search of an equilibrium. Unfortunately, with so many of the variables in constant flux, that equilibrium doesn't really exist.

      1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        I believe this is why certain categories of worker are exempt (with the worker's consent.) Alberta's laws are not all that different, and we have one of the most powerful economies in the world. :)

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

          1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

            If it weren't Oil it would be our vast mineral reserves, diamonds, uranium, forestry, agriculture, growing educated population or even our limestone deposits. Oil's cheap-and-easy for now, but Alberta is huge. We've got enough environment to ruin that we can keep at this for quite some time.

            Hell, we could just sit here, dam up all our rivers for hydro, set up eleventy squillion windmills by Crow's Nest pass, stand up a bunch of nuke plants, sell all the 'leccy to the states and live like kings.

            Alberta's problem is now, and has been for decades, inadequate manpower. The socially conservative xenophobes that live in the middle of south buttfuck nowhere are so terrified of furriners that not only will the Tea Party have nothing to do with them the Baptists threw them out! We have low immigration caps and ridiculous barriers to entry directly into the province. This prevents us from growing our workforce and it is the brakes on our economy.

            That said, we do indeed have laws here that say things like "thou shalt not contact people out of hours unless you pay them stupendous amounts of money. Certain jobs can be exempted from this if the employee agrees, but you can not discriminate against employees who actually want a work/life balance." We're crying for wetware to weld the pipes and twiddle the knobs and despite this we do just fine with our "draconian" labour laws.

            The French have the right of this. And that's with my business owner's hat on; the one that actually does have 24/7 clients to support.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              > If it weren't Oil it would be our vast mineral reserves, diamonds, uranium, forestry, agriculture, growing educated population or even our limestone deposits.

              You forgot to mention the great IT professionals.

              1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

                Sadly, Alberta has very few "knowledge workers" in that sense. We've a crazy amount of Structural/Mechanical/Civil Engineers, Geologists and so forth, but if you do IT and you aren't crazy you get the hell out of this province. It sucks that it took me until I was too poor to move to recognize that, but "trickle down economics" absolutely doesn't work.

                IT - like many other things including heath care - is viewed as a burdensome cost that employers and citizens alike shouldn't have to pay for. These are people who will gladly spend $200,000 on a kitted out half-ton work truck but balk at the idea of spending $550 to buy a new laptop.

                Alberta has a powerful economy with lots of things besides Oil that can and will keep it steaming along for decades...but the culture of Alberta is one of implementers, not innovators. This is not a place to invent new things, to improvise or experiment.

                Other places in the world invent things. Then we put manpower together with a willingness to wreck any part of the environment necessary to make money and create fantastic amount of wealth. 90% of which leaves the province to the companies that do all the environment-wrecking resource extraction and the other 10% of which people hoard.

                There's lots wrong here, but it isn't the labour laws screwing us up...

            2. Squander Two

              > We have low immigration caps and ridiculous barriers to entry directly into the province. This prevents us from growing our workforce and it is the brakes on our economy.

              Those things don't prevent you from growing your workforce; they prevent you from growing it very cheaply in significantly less than twenty years. To actually prevent it, you'd need forced contraception too.

    2. Richard Altmann

      tied to their employer whether they like it or not,

      you chose the wrong life ... Go back to start or continue to be a slave, looser

  7. dan1980

    So, sorry - is it "illegal" to call someone or simply illegal to fire someone who ignores you when you call?

    The bit about being able to ignore your phone implies the latter because if it really was illegal to call employees after hours then wouldn't the hypothetical dinner-eating peon be obliged to report that manager?

    The modern flexibility of businesses means that there is nothing inherently wrong with working at night or on the weekend. What needs to happen (and I don't know if it is the case in France) is for governments to enforce strict limits on what is 'normal' working hours but couple that with mandatory loading for anything outside that time, including minimum payments.

    For example, if you call an employee on Saturday, that employee gets paid double-time and for a minimum of 1 hour - even if the call was for 5 minutes. The goal is to enable flexibility but to strongly promote companies employing sufficient staff to do the work, rather than relying on overtime.

    Of course, some politicians go the other way, such as the Liberal (Conservative) party in Australia, who want to get rid of penalty rates altogether.

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      "if you call an employee on Saturday, that employee gets paid double-time and for a minimum of 1 hour - even if the call was for 5 minutes." - the real world rarely works like that.

      1. dan1980


        True, and that is why I said that that is what should happen.

        A strong modern economy requires some flexibility - if you can't have people working on weekends then 24/7 helpdesks will be outsourced to a country that does allow it*.

        A healthy population - mentally, physically, socially - requires respect of personal/family time. As Don Jefe said, it doesn't matter if that time is spent playing with the kids or eating mayonnaise, it's important and governments and employers need to accept that

        Companies - as a rule - don't really care about their employees' time outside of work. That's why regulations need to exist that place a value on that time and oblige companies to pay for the privilege of imposing on it.

        An employee's private time is a resource. That resource should be available for companies to make use of but it is a valuable resource and must be treated as such and never taken for granted. Many, many, many employees just don't have the ability to get just compensation for the use of their time and this is were government regulations step in.

        Those who can already name their price don't need those protections but many 'ordinary people' do.

        * - Of course that's likely to happen anyway but some companies genuinely do want local support available for their clients and they charge appropriately. Many businesses are willing to and, in practice, do, pay for that service level.

  8. southpacificpom
    Thumb Up


    Being English I've had little time for the French in general but I say good for them by bringing this in.

    The IT sector has become modern day slavery.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fantastique

      > Being English I've had little time for the French

      Believe me, being English has nothing to do with that.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Am I speaking to a former employee or a current employee?

  10. Mike Wilson
    Thumb Up

    Excellent idea

    Those who work long and hard shall be rewarded and their reward shall be... More work.

    1. Anonymous Custard

      Re: Excellent idea

      As the saying goes, no good deed ever goes unpunished...

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    People are way too loyal.

    Good for the French, but it only happens because knowledge workers let it happen.

    I think it started with project managers. In my experience (as an ex-low level manager in a large corporation), the project managers did expect that everyone else would live at the office just like they did. And gradually over time everyone did start working longer and longer, when really they should have told the PM to get stuffed. And then when it came to pay rise time, this extra work was never ever recognised.

    I remember one conference call for managers where the regional boss said the main reason that there was no cash being made available for pay rises for the third year in a row was that none of the technical staff had left so they must be happy with their lot.

    I got out and became a contractor for which my reward is a better work life balance, better pay and less stress. I still keep in touch with many of my former colleagues and most of them are still there working stupid hours , they are still miserable and they are still not getting pay rises. It is getting rather difficult to still be sympathetic with them when they don't do anything positive about changing the situation. The power is in their hands. There are good jobs out there but they don't move on. The PMs cannot do the work without them, yet collectively they let the PMs treat them like doormats.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: People are way too loyal.

      Seems a bit mean blaming the Project Manager, they don't hold the purse strings or determine the delivery time frame that's specified higher up the chain.

      Its simple supply and demand.. more techs has kept the lid on wage prices and there are so many, that basic techs are seen as two a penny and so are a burn-through resource by management.

      The only way to get away from this, is to skill up and thereby reduce the supply (ie. you have a more unique skillset) and hope demand is there. I personally started off as 1st line support, hated it, changed companies and moved into 2nd line support, (paid for my own training in those days MCSEs were the in thing, racking up over £5k in credit card debts) then changed companies again into 3rd line support and gradually you get the more difficult stuff to sort out and become the go-to knowledgeable person. Its amazing how easy it is, just read the manual is a good start! I ended up running infrastructure projects as the company wasn't large enough for dedicated PMs, and therefore over time moved into PM'ing and was lucky(?) to get on a few courses to get official PM qualifications.

      As a side note, its not just techs, I run a team of PMs; I was recently interviewing for a PM position. I was amazed by the dross of chancer contract PMs that come along with CVs littered with typos and when you dug into their history they had no idea of the actual Projects they were suppose to have delivered.

      "Tell me about the Projects that you managed"

      "I PM'ed a server upgrade program,"

      "Ok what OS was that?"


      "What version did you upgrade?"

      "erm, err, from version 1 to version 2"

      right...the door is behind you

      End of the day, you are in control of your own career, you can't expect to sit in the same chair and get auto-promoted. Always amazes me when I'm in the pub with a 2nd line support guy moaning away how poorly paid they are, yet aren't poorly paid enough to update their CV.

      1. David Cantrell

        Re: People are way too loyal.

        > Seems a bit mean blaming the Project Manager, they don't hold the purse strings or determine the delivery time frame that's specified higher up the chain.

        Actually a very big part of a successful project manager's job is saying "no" to management. Only if they do that will they reliably get their projects delivered on time and on budget.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: People are way too loyal.

        "Seems a bit mean blaming the Project Manager"

        Sorry but I've dealt with too many shiny suited muppets with a Prince2 qualification to ever feel sorry for a PM, but you'll always slide further on bullshit than elbow grease!

        Other than that, I agree with everything you said.

  12. JimC

    Something else that irritates me about 24 hour email

    I've always felt that the biggest advantage of email is that I can write when it suits me, and people can respond when it suits them. So I liked being able to write an email at stupid o clock if it suitse me, knowing it wouldn't disturb Jane or Bill until they turned the PC on. But now I have to start figuring whether I'd be disturbing someone by emailing at a time when I wouldn't consider making a phone call, plus time zones too.

    So whereas before I had the choice of voice when it was 24*7 urgent and email when it was next office hours urgent, now I don't, which is crazy.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Something else that irritates me about 24 hour email

      It is possible - certainly in an MS Exchange/Outlook environment to delay the sending of an email. I used to do this with a clueless boss, to show how hard I was working ....

  13. Graham 25

    Fascinating. This reads just like a set of comments from the Guardian, from people whose jobs have never hung in the balance.

    That is, okay in theory but in practice, unworkable. You can just see a group of people working on a 'must win or lose your job because the company folds' opportunity, simply turning off their mobile because the law says so. Try working in a multinational across timezone differences where this rule applies - because it will not. People will take their business elsewhere.

    Fine, ignore the phone, ignore the email as instructed but when you come into work on Monday and find you have been out manoeuvred by a foreign company who used that extra time to do something which put them ahead of you. You lose that important piece of business, your company suffers, and ultimately you lose your job and end up wishing that someone would call you during their work hours while you sit around in your pyjamas.

    Yes, it would be nice if such rules were universally applied across industry but such rules will never be applied in an international market like that on this plane of existence and doing it will eventually result in your business suffering and people will lose jobs as a result.

    And God knows the French have enough problems with job creation without wondering how they will replace yet more lost jobs, due to another nail in the coffin of productivity.

    1. JimC

      Fine until

      Your company goes toes up because all your most talented staff have burned out under incessant pressure.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Fine until

        But it never does, those talented people are not as unique as they think they are.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Fine until

          They are either unique or they are not. Stop mangling a very useful word.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Fine until

            In three jobs I have done in the past I was refused a pay increment greater than the average, so I left. At two places they had to replace me with two people and at the third it was with three people. I have subsequently met two of the managers that let me go in the past. Both admitted it was a mistake because they didn't realise what I actually did above my job spec. But both said they would knowingly do it now to increase their headcount! Will they never appreciate the workers?

            Anonymous because I'm British and we don't boast!

            1. JimC

              Re: Fine until.. will they never appreciate the workers

              Yeah, its strange how these days all executives are vital and irreplaceable and must be paid top quartile salaries, and the actual productive workers and ideas people are utterly interchangeable and need to have their pay frozen for the good of the business.

              And I read a good deal of history, and the books are quite short on the great business executives who created the modern world - politicians, engineers, scientists, academics, but few executives...

          2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

            Re: Fine until

            "They are either unique or they are not. Stop mangling a very useful word."

            I sympathise, but I thought that "not as unique" was rather appropriate. It will, after all, come as a great surprise to those concerned to discover that they are replaceable. One must break these things gently, even if it pains your inner linguist.

    2. Psyx

      "Fine, ignore the phone, ignore the email as instructed but when you come into work on Monday and find you have been out manoeuvred by a foreign company..."

      Yeah, sure: Dress it up and play sexy. Let's pretend every 11am call is of critical importance and all the cool cats in the office are taking them.

      I'm calling 'horse-shit' on that, though.

      Because we all know that 95% of 11pm calls are because someone has lost a password, failed to read an email properly, can't follow instructions, or just wants their hand held because they are being a scaredy-cat can't take the responsibility of making a decision on their own. Ergo: A waste of fscking time that they could have avoided by way of having to think for five minutes before reaching for the phone.

      1. Graham 25

        "Yeah, sure: Dress it up and play sexy. Let's pretend every 11am call is of critical importance and all the cool cats in the office are taking them.

        I'm calling 'horse-shit' on that, though.

        Because we all know that 95% of 11pm calls are because someone has lost a password, failed to read an email properly, can't follow instructions, or just wants their hand held because they are being a scaredy-cat can't take the responsibility of making a decision on their own. Ergo: A waste of fscking time that they could have avoided by way of having to think for five minutes before reaching for the phone."

        I understand your perspective but to imagine your rather narrow base of experience is somehow representative of how the rest of your organisation actually works is somewhat naive. You clearly have no involvement with fee paying clients who keep your company and you in money, and other such nice things. Your experience is somewhat limited to the narrow field you illustrate.

        Just this Thursday afternoon (based in UAE so weekend started an hour later) client asks for a best and final offer on a proposal , by close of play Sunday. This involves liaison with the UK who work on a different weekend a different timezone. This will involve a lot of people on a deal trying to keep their jobs. I am not making this up - this did happen on Thursday. One of my guys is off on a flight to the UK today (Saturday) so he can work with the team there - who are sensible enough to decide themselves whether answering the phone is appropriate or not.

        So what do we do - ignore all the calls on the Friday asking for advice, and then have them refuse to answer on the day before submission and the day itself ? or hope we are bidding against a French company who won;t even read the email regarding the deadline?

        Losing that bid means a lot of people who are directly affected and to suggest this is unreal is somewhat silly on your part. Just because you are not in a client facing part of the organisation does not mean their experience is valid. They keep you in a job and maybe you ought to think about that next time you stand up for your rights to the point you pick up your P45.

        Remember that clients don't owe you a living and they can take the business elsewhere, and that standing up for your rights is fine until you lose your job..

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    And now the unions want to control France's imports just to keep their jobs out of the hands of the Chinese. What do they management to do? Pay them to do nothing? Someone some where some how must do some work or the companies willl go broke. When a company is broke, it cannot pay anyone a single sou.

    This is the equivalent of putting a rope around one's neck and threatening to jump off the stool just to be lazy. It would laughable if it were not so tragic.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I work for a company well regarded by Private Eye. The company treats its staff with such contempt that they mostly find it very easy to turn off their phones as soon as the home bell chimes.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Solution

      "I work for a company well regarded by Private Eye."

      Is there one? Enquiring minds would like to know!

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: Solution

        I took the OP to mean "well regarded ... as a regular source of material.".

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Balance ? Perspective ? One size fits all ?

    I can only speak for myself, but my employer is incredibly enlightened, and allows me to work from home. I'm involved in IT strategy so there's no need for me to be in an office - especially when we have multiple sites and companies in the group.

    As a result I have incredible flexibility over when I choose to work.

    Occasionally, I will get out of hours emails that demand a response. Or (as happened this week) an email on a day off, asking if I could go to a meeting the next day. However, I regard this as the price I pay, for the trust placed in me by my employer, since I can also run errands, or swap work around to be able do things during the week, when I would otherwise be "working".

  17. Velv

    When has a law ever stopped a French person doing whatever they want?

    1. Psyx

      About 1942, when enforced by the Gestapo?

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon

        I shall say this only once..

        Tell that to le Resistance

        1. Psyx

          There weren't really many of them*. [French] history tells us that the countryside was awash with people in berets fighting the Germans, but the reality is that 99% of the country rolled over.

          * but kudos to the ones that there were.

          1. JimmyPage Silver badge

            To be fair

            look at what the Germans did to Oradour sur Glane.

            Maybe you can understand the French attitude.

  18. rhydian

    Prescriptive legislation is rarely the way forward

    As with just about everything in life the question of work versus home life isn't one you can "fix" with a blanket rule.

    For example, as the son of someone who worked "on call" shifts on various evenings and weekends I count my weekends and evenings as very important. I will only do work stuff at those times when its unavoidable (e.g. specific events) or it makes more sense from an operations point of view (e.g. its less bother all round to rewire a cabinet on a sunday afternoon than monday morning).

    There are others (like my boss) who routinely do work outside "normal" hours as he prefers the fact he's unlikely to be disturbed (unlike in work hours).

    If you passed a law one way or the other neither of us would be happy...

  19. Squander Two

    Fair enough.

    > Other rules stipulate a minimum number of consecutive hours an employee must be away from work per day and per week before being required to return, and so on.

    We have that law in the UK too. 11 hours between shifts. I don't think it's fair to include such a law as an example of France's draconian labour laws. Nothing draconian about letting people get a bit of sleep.

  20. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    Does it

    cover lying in hospital after heart surgery and having the numpties ring up asking how you fix a particular robot?

    And for all you workaholics , I'm on my afternoon off because strangely my life revolves around me and my needs , not whatever the hell it is that the boss is demanding I sort out now.

    But IF I was paid for out of hours support, then it would be a different matter....

    Beer ... because I have one now mmmmmm

    1. Jacksonville

      Re: Does it

      Just what the doctor ordered?

  21. Tom 7

    I used to go skiing with a freind whose german company

    regularly sent them home to keep in line with the draconian German laws on hours worked.

    I dont go skiing with him cos he got far too good.

    His company also wipes the floor with most of its UK competition. Or it did until the UK gave up.

  22. Lone Gunman

    Set your boundaries

    I think the French will likely ignore this to be honest or at least a lot of them will.

    Personally my boss and I have this arrangement: emails don't need to be answered there and then but phone calls will be urgent/important. We rarely call in the evenings/weekends/holidays unless its important anyway which sort of helps (as do the apologies for disturbing personal time). Generally I answer mails too if its a quick question, but the big thing is that I am not expected to and its my choice.

    But I'm management and far enough up the tree that ignoring a call can be disastrous for either the business or our staff so maybe I see it a little differently.

  23. samlebon2306

    During biz hours, managers would ask employees to call them after work. That's it, problem solved.

  24. This post has been deleted by its author

  25. xyzw

    The article is misleading

    There was an article about France forbiding working to check email after 6pm and now this one (and comment about 6-5): these are not the reality.

    What was agreed in France, between "social partners" (employees and bosses unions), was to amend the Syntec "social convention". A social convention is something that is added to the law, for some particular area, here, syntec is a engineering social convention (used in software among other areas).

    The convention is mostly for "cadres" (lose word for "managers").

    These people, under the convention, are paid for a set number of working days during the year (max is about 210-220 days, so, 365 minus week-end and bank holidays and vacation), instead of being paid hourly.

    It also state that there is a minimal "daily rest period" (usually, consecutive hours) of around 11 hours (at the top of my head), and 13 hours for the week-end (so, you can be asked to work 13 hours a day).

    I guess limit Euro limits apply at the top of that.

    This new text wants to enforce disconnection, to make sure people are having their mandatory rest period for the 210-220 days.

  26. bobwad


    Well, what fun it all is.

    The lesson to be learnt: never trust the Guardian or the Register to translate a story from French.

    This is all such drivel. The agreement affects a relatively small number of workers who are required to be allowed proper rest in view of the nature of their employment. That is all.

    In the meantime the French press are giggling at the incompetence of the anglophone press. Again...

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