French worker wins right-to-disconnect battle

His ex-employer was found to have breached his right to disconnect from work.

Rentokil in France has been ordered to pay a former employee €60,000 (S$95,000) for failing to respect his right to “switch off” from his phone and computer after work.

The former Rentokil employee was a regional director within the company’s operations in France, and was expected to “permanently leave his telephone on…to respond to requests from his subordinates or customers”.

However, Rentokil did not consider him to be officially on call, even when such calls took place outside the office during after-hours – and as such, did not compensate him for this work.  

However, France’s Supreme Court ruled that the employee was indeed “on call”, because his contact details were listed explicitly as someone to be called during emergencies.

The employee was fired in 2011, before France's "right to disconnect" law came into force on January 1 2017.

Under this law, employees of companies with more than 50 staff can ignore emails outside of work hours. The companies are expected to draw up a charter specifying what exactly constitutes work and outside-work hours.

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