Rentokil fined €60,000 by French court for breaching employee’s ‘right to disconnect’ from work

The French wing of British pest control giant Rentokil has been ordered to pay a former employee €60,000 as it failed to respect his “right to disconnect” from his phone and computer outside office hours.

This ruling is believed to be the first since a new law was put in place in 2016 which gives employees the right to switch off electronic devices in response to the scourge of compulsive out-of-hours email and message.

The decision, dated 12th July, found it unfair for the ex-employee to permanently leave it work telephone on to respond to work queries. The ex-employee was fired in 2011 and took his ex-employer to court for compensation for the extra hours on call. The company did not consider the ex-director to be officially on call and there was no stipulation that he needed to remain close to his home to field calls and deal with emergency business.

However, the court ruled that given that his number was provided as one of the directors to call should problems arise, that amounted to him being “on call”, and that he should be paid for his time.  Legal expert Sylvain Niel said that the simple fact of being “connected” outside work hours was enough to be considered “on call”.

By Lee Silson

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