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Measure requires businesses to negotiate how much workers are expected to respond to emails and other tasks. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

A new law intended to help French employees detach from work requires businesses to negotiate how much workers are expected to respond to emails and other tasks after-hours.

The measure, which went into effect Jan. 1, applies to companies and employers with more than 50 workers. If they’re unable to come up with an agreement with their employees, the companies must publish a charter with clear expectations that lays out the rights of workers.

The charter must lay out exactly when workers can be expected to respond to work emails when they’re out of the office. More than one-third of French workers use devices to work after hours, according to the research group Eleas.

Labor Minister Myriam El Khomri introduced the measure as a response to research about the effect of technology on the work-life balance, often leading to burnout, sleeplessness and relationship problems.

The law is expected to reduce the number of extra, unpaid hours that employees work from home. The country has restricted the workweek to 35 hours since 2000, but that often has excluded hours worked remotely.

But some have argued the new requirement lacks teeth, as there are no penalties for companies that fail to reach an agreement with employees on a clear set of expectations.

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