France: Government Issues New Safety Protocol for Businesses
The French Ministry of Labour has once again updated company health protocols in order to specify the rules applicable since 9 June 2021, in order to assist employers in making telework more flexible, allowing for face-to-face meetings, and the return of social events in the company.
The previous limit of one day in-person can now be exceeded.
Since 9 June, companies have been able to envisage a return to face-to-face meetings for their employees. It is not a question of returning to face-to-face work for five days out of five, but of lifting the rule authorising on-site work for only one day a week and on condition that the employee’s attendance is voluntary.
The protocol continues to stress that “telework can be considered as one of the most effective measures to prevent the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection in order to protect workers’ health, in accordance with the first principle of prevention set out in Article L. 4121-2 of the Labour Code, which consists in avoiding risks to health and safety at work”.
However, it makes the terms of telework more flexible by allowing the employer to set “within the framework of local social dialogue, a minimum number of days of telework per week, for activities that allow it” based on the national interprofessional agreement (ANI) of 26 November 2020.
The return of face-to-face meetings
Although audio or video-conference meetings are still to be preferred, the Ministry of Labour accepts that they can be held face-to-face as long as the barrier measures, in particular the wearing of masks, the ventilation of the premises and the rules on distancing, are respected.
The return of office events limited to 25 people
Companies will once again be able to organise social events for employees in-person, subject to certain conditions. Companies will have to:
- ensure strict compliance with barrier measures, in particular the wearing of masks;
- provide for ventilation measures;
- ensure that the rules of distancing are respected;
- ensure that these moments of conviviality are held in outdoor areas; and
- that they do not bring together more than 25 people.
Key Action Points for Human Resources and In-house Counsel
Employers can now ask their employees to return to the office more than one day per week, but without making it full-time.
Meetings and leisure activities can once again occur on-site, but only if the employer acts in accordance with the strict sanitary distancing measures outlined in the Ministry’s protocol.