New rules have come into force concerning employees' rights to disconnect from digital devices outside normal working time. From 1 January 2017, all relevant employers must negotiate on the employees' right to have periods where they are disconnected from digital working devices and on the implementation processes which regulate the use of such devices. If no company-wide collective bargaining agreement is reached, they must adopt an internal policy. A "relevant employer" for these purposes is one where union representatives are recognised for mandatory annual negotiations.

The term "right to disconnect", the devices that it covers and the time periods when it may be exercised are not defined by the new law. However, the term can be described as the right for each employee to elect not to stay remotely connected to a professional digital tool (smartphone, laptop, iPad, etc.) during rest periods, sickness and holidays, and more generally outside of working time. The implementation processes of this right will necessarily be subject to specific conditions for management-level employees (those whose working time is computed in annual days since they are not subject to hourly schedules, and may therefore not claim for a right to disconnect during predetermined time slots).

In respect of collective bargaining agreements that calculate working time by reference to days in the year, the new law requires that specific implementation processes must be in place in order for the employees to fully benefit from this right. Failing this, the employer must issue a written notice and deliver it to each of the concerned employees.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.