Coronavirus: What are the rules for sick leave and working from home in France?

As the number of confirmed cases in France continues to rise, French authorities are advising anyone who has recently returned from an infected area to self isolate - but does this mean forgoing wages?

Coronavirus: What are the rules for sick leave and working from home in France?
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Here's a look at the rules for workers and parents who are affected by self isolating.

Will I still get paid?

Yes. If you are an employee you are entitled to take up to 20 days of sick leave to cover a period of self isolation – even if you are not ill.

The French government passed a decree at the start of February making it clear to employers than anyone who was self isolating under government advice qualifies for sick leave in the same way as anyone who is ill.

This contrasts with countries such as the US, which has no statutory paid sick leave, and the UK, where the government has said it is up to individual employers to apply the rules, and the French authorities hope it will help contain the spread of the virus by ensuring that people who need to self isolate do do.

Follow the latest updates on the situation in France here

What about parents?

The other group of people covered by the decree are parents whose children have been told they cannot go to school – either because they need to self isolate or because the school has closed.

Parents in those circumstances are also entitled to 20 days of leave.

What about working from home?

Obviously not everyone has the kind of job that can be done from home, but if you are not able to go in to work you can ask your boss if you can télétravailler (work remotely) instead.

Your boss does not have to agree to your request, although they do have to provide you with a reason for refusal, but home-working is on the government's list of recommended practices for some groups.

Conversely, your boss can also instruct you to work from home.

France's recently-introduced new labour lax includes a clause (Article L1222-11) about epidemics which states that bosses can order their staff to work at home if they feel there is a safety risk through being in the office. If you are instructed to work at home and turn up at the office anyway you are committing a disciplinary offence.

READ ALSO The everyday precautions you can take to stay safe in France

Who should be self isolating?

The government advises that anyone recently returned from China (including Hong Kong and Macau), South Korea, Singapore, Iran or the Lombardy, Veneto or Emilia-Romagna regions of Italy should self isolate for 14 days

This means you should;

  • Monitor your temperature twice a day
  • Watch for symptoms of respiratory infection (cough, difficulty breathing)
  • Wear a surgical mask when you are in front of another person and when you have to go out
  • Wash your hands regularly or use a sanitiser gel
  • Avoid any contact with vulnerable people (pregnant women, those with ongoing health problems, elderly people
  • Avoid frequenting places where vulnerable people are present (hospitals, maternity wards, old people's homes)
  • Avoid all non-essential outings (large gatherings, restaurants, cinema)
  • Workers/Students: as far as possible, choose home working and avoid close contact (meetings, lifts, canteen)
  • Children should not be sent to school or nursery

What is the general health advice?

While the government has advised against all non-essential travel, especially outside the EU, for people who have not recently travelled life continues pretty much as normal.

If you're planning on going to any big gathering – or the Louvre – you will face cancellations and ministers have also advised people to avoid shaking hands or kissing in a bid to halt the spread of the virus.

Otherwise, you're just advised to follow this standard health advice;

  • Wash hands your thoroughly and often with soap and water, especially after coughing and sneezing or before eating or it you have been touching surfaces that many other people will have touched such as on the Metro
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, especially with unwashed hands.
  • Cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing. Cover your mouth with your elbow when coughing
  • Use disposable tissues and throw them away after use
  • Clean off surfaces with alcohol- or chlorine-based disinfectants.

READ ALSO Garlic and urine – things that will not prevent you from getting coronavirus (plus a few things that will)



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‘Public opinion is ready’ – These French senators want to legalise marijuana

A group of 31 French senators of the Socialist, Green and Republican parties have come together to write a statement calling for the legalisation of marijuana in France.

'Public opinion is ready' - These French senators want to legalise marijuana

France is known for having some of the strictest laws regarding marijuana consumption in Europe – while simultaneously maintaining one of the highest rates of cannabis usage in the EU. 

A group of French senators – coming from the Socialist, Green and centre-right Les Républicains parties – are trying to change those laws, and have come together to call for marijuana to be legalised in France.

The group of 31 co-signed a statement published in French newspaper, Le Monde, on Wednesday, August 10th.

In the statement, the senators promised to launch a ‘consultation process’ to submit a bill to legalise marijuana “in the coming months.”

The proposition was headed by Senator Gilbert-Luc Devinaz, a member of the Socialist Party, and gained support from the party’s leader, Patrick Kanner.

READ MORE: The long and winding road towards changing France’s cannabis laws

A report by the Assemblé Nationale, which was published in May 2021, estimated that nearly 18 million French people (more than 25 percent of the population) had already consumed marijuana, and that an additional 1.5 million consume it regularly.

This, coupled with the 2019 finding that nearly one in two French people (45 percent) said they were in favour of legalisation, according to a survey by the French Observatory of Drugs and Drug Addiction (OFDT), helped strengthen the senators’ position.

“Public opinion is ready, the legislature must act,” they wrote.

Their senators argue that legalising marijuana in France will allow the authorities to better protect French citizens, saying that legalising would not require “minimising the health impacts of cannabis consumption” but rather would allow regulation similar to “public policies for tobacco, alcohol or gambling.”

For the group of 31 senators, the benefits of legalisation would involve a better control over the “health quality of products consumed,” “curbing trafficking in disadvantaged areas,” developing large-scale prevention plans,” and finally the taxation of cannabis products and redirection of law enforcement resources. Decriminalisation – in their opinion – would not be sufficient as this would simply “deprive authorities the ability to act,” in contrast to legalisation. 

READ MORE: Is France moving towards legalising cannabis for recreational purposes?

“In the long term, new tax revenues would be generated from the cannabis trade and from savings in the justice and police sectors”, which would make it possible to mobilize “significant resources for prevention as well as for rehabilitation and economic development,” wrote the senators.

In France, the conversation around cannabis has evolved in recent years – former Health Minister (and current government spokesman) Olivier Véran said to France Bleu in September 2021 that “countries that have gone towards legalisation have results better than those of France in the last ten years,” adding that he was interested in the potential therapeutic use of cannabis.

Currently, the drug is illegal in France. Previously, it fell under a 1970-law of illicit drug use, making it punishable with up to a year prison and an up to €3,750 fine.

However, in 2020, the government softened the penalties, making it possible for those caught consuming it to opt for an on-the-spot fine of €200.

There is also an ongoing trial involving 3,000 patients to test the impacts of medical marijuana usage, particularly with regard to pain relief.