As French workers hit the street to protest a proposed labor reform that would create loopholes for employers to demand more than 35 hours of work each week, at least one bill is aimed at giving them more flexibility.

The proposed "Right to Disconnect" law, put forth by French labor minister Myriam El Khomri (at the urging of Bruno Mettling, the general director of telecom giant Orange) would give employees the right to ignore emails and phone calls from their employer after work hours. The idea, Mettling had explained in an interview last year with Europe 1, is to decrease the likelihood of burnout by giving workers the opportunity to disengage.

As many as 75 percent of French managers now work from home in the evenings, and over 50 percent of managers work both weekends and holidays.  What's more, over 3 million French workers feel "emotionally exhausted," putting them at risk of developing chronic stress, according to risk analysis firm Technologia. Another recent study found that 27 people commit suicide in France--every day. 

"We have poor self-control when it comes to new technology," noted Technologia founder Jean-Claude Delgenes in an interview with The Local. "Work spills over into people's private lives. The difference between work and social life used to be clearly distinct."

In spite of the famous 35-hour workweek in France, which has garnered much criticism from the international community, workers still typically stay late and work remotely, for fear of losing their jobs in the midst of the economic crisis. Even if the law does pass, Delgenes doubts it will have much of an effect if managers do not lessen their workload demands. 

Other proposed labor reforms would include extending the maximum workday length to 12 hours, while also extending the maximum workweek length to 60 hours. The proposals come as the rate of unemployment in France hovers above 10 percent, and as French President François Hollande has pledged not to run for re-election if he fails to improve that number. Meanwhile, unions vow not to cease protesting until the draft bill is scrapped entirely.

If passed, the "right to disconnect" legislation would take effect in the summer of 2017. 

Business owners remain skeptical

French startup founders point to the need to grow aggressively in the early stages of a business, during which time employees should be expected to respond to messages after hours.  

"I'm against this law," says Hugues Franc, founder and CEO of Beeleev. His Paris-based business connects private companies with key contacts in global markets. "It's not up to the government to decide [this], but to the business and its management." 

Last year, Beeleev brought in nearly $226,000 in revenues (€200,000), and grew its client base by a factor of six. It currently serves more than 2,500 entrepreneurs. 

While employees should never be forced into working after hours, companies can go through "very hectic periods" (during which time the employees should know their responsibilities, and be in a position to check emails), adds Franc.

For some, staying connected is essential to startup culture

Nicolas Potier, the founder of ACSEO -- a startup that makes web and mobile apps -- concurs. "As a business owner, my life today is to be connected to my company 24/7," Potier told USA Today. "We are already vigilant to the quality of life of our employees." According to Potier, many of his workers don't mind staying connected well into the evening.

Tanguy Desandre is the founder and CEO of MaPlaceEnCrèche, a network of nurseries in France, and which also helps to set up nursery programs in workplaces. The company saw revenues of €6.65 million last year, and has been profitable since launching in 2010, according to Desandre. It partners with 1,500 childcare centers. 

"You can't control people by telling them to disconnect in the evening," says Desandre. "We need to push for the idea of trusting in the businesses."

Still, he says that his 35 employees generally don't work past 7:00 p.m., regardless. 

"The spirit of a startup in France is to work hard for a cause," Desandre adds. "The cause justifies going beyond the traditional rules [of work.]"

Others recognize that the proposed law, while controversial, would have its benefits. 

"With all of the technology, staying connected after work, it does affect family life," notes Amaury de Parcevaux, a serial entrepreneur and managing partner with V2V Associates, an investment firm based in New York City. Parcevaux, who previously served as president and co-founder at Beeleev, is married with children, and has dual citizenship in France and the U.S. 

"I can't imagine any CEO of any startup telling the team to take it easy," he said.

"In New York and on Wall Street, it's unlikely," he said. "Part of the issue is that the financial market doesn't sleep."