French Prime Minister Manuel Valls delivers a speech during the labor law debate at the national assembly in Paris, France, Thursday, May 12, 2016. France's government is facing a major test as lawmakers hold a no-confidence vote, prompted by a deeply divisive labor law allowing longer workdays and easier layoffs. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

It is illegal in France to email workers during off hours

Employees in France now have "the right to disconnect."

A new labor reform bill in the country bans companies with 50 or more employees from sending communications related to work during employees' off hours.

The amendment is part of a controversial law in France, which was passed May 10.

"All the studies show there is far more work-related stress today than there used to be, and that the stress is constant," Socialist MP Benoit Hamon told BBC News. "Employees physically leave the office, but they do not leave their work. They remain attached by a kind of electronic leash -- like a dog."

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Olivier Mathiot, CEO of a Parisian-based online marketplace called PriceMinister, told BBC News that he has instituted "no-email Fridays" to pull employees away from a digital tether, but that the new law might not be much help.

"In France we are champions at passing laws, but they are not always very helpful when what we need is greater flexibility in the workplace," he said.'

Others in the industry spoke to BBC News about their concerns with the law:

Related: France is not actually banning emails after work hours

"In my company we compete with Indian, Chinese, American developers. We need to talk to people around the world late into the night. Our competitors don't have the same restrictions," a software writer said.

"If we obeyed this law we would just be shooting ourselves in the foot."

Other parts of the law are highly contested. The Guardian reported in April that opponents of the labor reform bill said it would lead to less job security for young people and threaten worker rights.

"The development of information and communication technologies, if badly managed or regulated, can have an impact on the health of workers," the bill says, adding that no regulation of work-related communication can blur the lines of personal and professional lives.

"There was much guilt, as you might expect, as people felt concerned about whether they should ignore work or their family, again putting all the responsibility for the ‘choice’ on employees," Gillian Symon, a researcher of how digital lives affect people's work-life balance, told The Washington Post.

Jon Whittle, another researcher who works with Symon, said the law does not do enough to tackle the real problem.

"The real problem is the culture of having to constantly do more and constantly do better than competitors," he told The Post.

Still, he said, "Having a happy and stress-free workforce can provide a competitive advantage. The culture of expecting people to be always connected and always on will not necessarily lead to a competitive advantage; it could just lead to burnout and losing top-performing staff."

But the law as it is currently drafted does not have a way of being enforced. Instead, it is expected that companies will voluntarily obey the law.

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