New legislation : remote work
Published on : 19/01/2021 19 January Jan 01 2021
Doing business in France requires keeping up to speed with the quickly evolving and growing legislation. Whether it’s Labor Law, Tax, Social Security, or other, we’re here to guide you through the new rules of the game
Remote work and Remote Staff Representation
With the second wave of coronavirus infections and the second lockdown came injunctions to impose remote work. There were declarations by the Minister of Labor and instructions addressed by labor inspectorates to enforce the rules of the health protocol within companies. Some labor administrations sent companies messages specifying that the implementation of telework was not left up their free choice nor that of their employees, as long as the workstation or functions allow the work to be accomplished remotely/from home.
The Ministry of Labor posted on its website an FAQ that includes “Is the implementation of telework an obligation for the company?”
The Ministry answers this with
“YES. If the activities allow it. In the current exceptional circumstances, linked to the threat of the epidemic, telework must be generalized for all activities that allow it. In this context, the working time carried out in teleworking is increased to 100% for employees who can carry out all their tasks remotely. In other cases, the organization of work must make it possible to reduce home-to-work travel and to arrange the time spent at the company to carry out tasks that cannot be carried out remotely, in order to reduce social interactions.”
For employers who might be reluctant, let us recall that though no sanctions are provided for in the Labor Code, it may be very risky for the employer to not implement remote work for the job positions that allow it. Indeed, the safety obligation, provided for in Articles L. 4121-1 et seq. of the Labor Code, requires them to take the necessary measures to ensure that the health of their employees is not compromised.
In France, this safety obligation is very important and in the context of the first wave of the pandemic, it gave rise to a heavy jurisprudence last spring.
Negotiations on Remote Work
On 26 November, the representatives of the main employee trade unions and employers' organizations, known in France as the “social partners”, finalized a draft national cross-industry agreement on remote work.
It covers such topics as the implementation of telework and the specific rights of teleworkers, etc. This text aims to facilitate the implementation of telework. It does not actually create new rights but lists and aims at clarifying the existing applicable rules in French legislation regarding remote work.
It details the role of managers, who are responsible in particular for preserving the social-connection between workers.
It also invites employers to anticipate the identification of activities that can be performed remotely in order to cope with exceptional circumstances such as the Covid-19 pandemic.
Remote works-council meetings
Until the end of the state of health emergency, currently scheduled for 16 February 2021 but expected to be extended until June, the derogatory provisions authorizing the use of remote meetings for staff representatives have been reinstated.
This was carried out by the Order no. 2020-1441 dated 25 November 2020. As was the case last spring during the first wave of the pandemic in France, a decree specifies the technical procedures for consulting and holding meetings when they are held by conference call or an instant messaging service.
Decree no. 2020-1513 of December 3, 2020 incorporates exactly the same provisions of the decree from April of this year on identifying participants, ensuring their effective participation and the appropriate voting system.
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