France is serious about work-life balance. How serious? Well, depending on your profession, skipping a day off could cost you.
Cédric Vaivre, baker and owner of Boulangerie du Lac, learned this lesson the hard way. A French court has ordered Vaivre to pay a €3,000 fine for skipping his weekly day off during the busy summer tourist season. Local law in the region of Aube, where his bakery is located, mandates that bakeries close at least one day a week.
Vaivre’s bakery applied for and received a waiver to the rule up until 2016. When his application was denied for the 2017 season, the baker opted to work all week long anyway. Hence: the fine.
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Divided Opinions on Mandatory Time Off
“In a tourist area, it seems essential that a business can open every day during the summer,” said Christian Branle, mayor of Lusigny-sur-Barse, the small town where Vaivre works. “There’s nothing worse than closed shops when there are tourists.”
However, Frederic Amiot, president of the Bakers and Pastrymakers Patron Federation of Aube, said that the baker should follow the law.
“We understand that Mr. Vaivre wants to work more during the tourist season to make ends meet, but this law applies to all of the bakeries,” he said in an interview with France’s L’est eclair.
France: Where Bad Work-Life Balance Is Against the Law
Work-life balance is almost as essential to French culture as bread.
Last year, the French government rolled out a new employment law requiring companies with more than 50 employees to grant workers “the right to disconnect” from work after hours. The law didn’t provide for sanctions against employers who fail to set reasonable limits for after-hours work. However, the hope was that the rule would help workers negotiate reasonable boundaries with their employers.
And if you’re reading this in America, you might be tempted to start learning French. Bread, mandatory days off, a limit to late-night emails from the boss — France really does seem like a worker’s paradise.
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