Working from home and Covid-19 – a French perspective
By Santiago Guzmán, FIDAG SARL
Since October 2020, there have been alternating periods of curfew and lockdown. During lockdown periods, home-based work has been the norm for all employees whose duties are compatible with working remotely, especially for employees who have a higher risk of a severe form of the disease, and/or live with a person susceptible to developing a severe form of the disease.
When home-based work is not possible, employers must implement reinforced work protection measures in order to comply with their general obligation of ensuring the safety and protection of the physical and mental wellbeing of their workers.
In order to assist employers in complying with this obligation, the French government published an “health protocol”, that has been regularly updated. These reinforced work protection measures can be summarised as follows:
- Ensure social distancing within the work premises;
- Limit the number of people in the same room;
- Implement flexible working hours;
- Provide hand sanitizer;
- Regularly disinfect all surfaces;
- Require the compulsory wearing of masks in all enclosed public spaces (including company premises), with an exception for individual offces.
Within the pandemic context, and as a result of imposed lockdowns, emergency telework has been implemented, when possible, without any particular formality.
But what about today as we emerge from the pandemic? How can telework be set up in France?
Telework can be set up through a collective agreement signed with union representatives or through a company chart unilaterally established by the employer after consultation with staff representatives.
In the absence of a chart or collective agreement, when the employee and the employer agree to set up telework, they can formalise their agreement by any means.
Which elements should be included in these charts or agreements?
In order to set up telework rules and their implementation, the following subjects must be included:
- the conditions in which employees can opt into a telework scheme,
- the conditions in which they may return to their nontelework positions,
- how to monitor working time and employees’ workload while working remotely,
- how to establish the time periods during which employees can be contacted by the employer.
Some employers will surely adopt telework as an integrated tool in their organisation, but for others, “the offce is still a strong element of social linkage for employees”. For these companies, a return to “classic” on-site work could take place as soon as the health situation normalises.
Santiago GuzmánGGI member firm
Audit and Accounting, Tax, Advisory and Corporate Finance
T: +33 1 42 80 20 81
FIDAG SARL was created in 1985 and specialises in accounting, auditing, and advice to SMEs where they are engaged in international operations, particularly tax issues, social and labour law, legal problems, accounting.
Santiago Guzmán is an Employment law counsel at Fidag and a former Attorney at Law (Paris and Madrid Bars). He advises international companies in all French labour law-related issues.
Published: Employment Law Newsletter, No.11, Autumn 2021 l Photo: ingusk - stock.adobe.com