France: New Bill Adopts Social Measures for Exiting the COVID-19 Health Crisis
Several of the emergency measures that were taken in order to deal with the consequences of the health crisis linked to the COVID-19 epidemic are to be extended once again. In particular, with regard to paid leave, the renewal of certain short contracts, labour lending, remote meetings of the Works Council and the mobilisation of occupational health services. The draft law on the management of the closing stages of the health crisis, adopted by the Council of Ministers on 28 April 2021, provides for the postponement of the end of the transitional period from 30 June to 31 October 2021, the date of the end of the state of health emergency on 2 June. In addition, the government would be empowered to take new measures by ordinance to accompany the gradual resumption of activities and to anticipate a possible return of the epidemic, specifically in terms of partial activity. The draft law essentially takes up the provisions recently submitted for consultation to the social partners.
Up to eight days of paid leave imposed by the employer
A company agreement or, failing that, a branch agreement, may determine the conditions under which the employer is unilaterally authorised to impose the taking of paid leave or to modify the dates of leave already set.
The possibility of imposing the taking of rest days
When the interests of the company justify it, in view of the economic difficulties linked to the spread of COVID-19, the employer may unilaterally decide or modify the dates of certain rest days, by way of derogation from the rules of the Labour Code and collective agreements, up to a maximum of ten days. According to the bill, the period for taking rest days imposed or modified could not extend beyond 31 October 2021, instead of the current 30 June 2021.
Extension of short contracts
In order to ensure the continuity of contractual relations that could not be carried out normally because of the health crisis, certain possibilities for derogation from the rules on the duration and renewal of fixed-term employment contracts (CDD) and temporary employment contracts (CTT) would also be maintained. The implementation of these derogations would remain conditional on the conclusion of a collective company agreement, which may now be concluded up until 31 October 2021 (instead of 30 June 2021).
A more flexible regime for labour lending
In order to allow companies with reduced activity to make employees available to those with labour needs, certain possibilities for derogation from the rules on non-profit labour lending would be renewed. They would thus be maintained beyond 30 June and until 31 October, in order to promote the recovery of the economy in 2021.
The possibility of remote meetings for the Works Council
The bill provides for the possibility to maintain the possibility of the employee representative bodies meeting remotely. While this option was due to expire on 30 June 2021, it will be extended until 31 October 2021. This derogation allows the CSE to meet by videoconference, without applying the limit of three meetings per calendar year; this includes companies which are not covered by an agreement previously concluded in this respect, with the members of the CSE. Meetings can also be organised by telephone conference, under conditions laid down by decree.