Former actress Sharon Au says she was reported to HR by French colleagues over after-hours messages

Former actress Sharon Au in Paris, France. @sharonau13/Instagram
Former actress Sharon Au in Paris, France. @sharonau13/Instagram

Singaporeans are famously known for being workaholics. The French? They take the whole work-life balance thing a wee bit more seriously.

Former actress Sharon Au — who traded acting for the business world after a string of TV dramas in the late ‘90s/early ‘00s — recently said she’s had to learn that different mentality the hard way since joining a French company.

The 44-year-old, who has been working at a private equity firm since last year, was reported twice to the human resources department at the French firm where she works for “harassment,” she told Chinese-language radio station 96.3 Hao FM on Sept. 26

France enacted a law in 2017 giving employees the right to disconnect from work, including emails or text messages that come in after office hours. 

The first time it happened was during her very first week of work, when she emailed a staffer at 8pm, she told the DJs. A screenshot of the email was then sent to HR.

The next incident took place several months later when Au texted a colleague at 11pm to say that everything was set for an 8:30am event the next day. At that point, the HR department suggested she pick up new interests or hobbies outside of work. Her boss even gave her movie tickets, Au said.

The interview gained traction this week after other English-language media outlets reported it, attracting responses from Singaporeans online the past two days, with a slew of comments on Facebook and Twitter about her work ethic. 

While some rallied to her defense, the majority believed she should be adhering to her new country’s work regulation — if not flat out wishing we had the same kind of law here in Singapore.

Online comments about Sharon Au. Online comments about Sharon Au. Online comments about Sharon Au.

Au spoke out for the first time yesterday since her story went viral, taking to Instagram to thank those who showed her support.

“Thank you so much I received an overwhelming amount of messages and I’m still trying to answer you (sic),” she said.

“The truth is, we are never going to be certain of the decisions we make. But we sure learn the most when you challenge yourself to be in a foreign environment unprotected, unfamiliar, along to fend for yourself… We live through our own distress and adversity the best way we can.”


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