Coronavirus: The measures France has taken that impact workers

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Coronavirus: The measures France has taken that impact workers
Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and Labour Minister Muriel Pénicaud. Photo: AFP

As France fights what President Emmanuel Macron has dubbed “a war” against coronavirus, the government has announced a series of measures aimed at keeping its economy afloat and protect against job losses.


Twenty-five measures (ordonnances) in total - specifically targeting both employers and employees - will aim to lessen the negative repercussions of the epidemic on the French economy. 

"It's a novel and massive way to protect skills and businesses," France's Labour Minister Muriel Pénicaud said as she laid out the plan to the press.

"France will go into recession this year," Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire has previously stated.

The country went into lockdown on March 17th, with its activity level reduced to the very minimum and all sectors focused on tackling the coronavirus epidemic.

The new measures are products of the state of health emergency that the government has declared and their main goal is that, after an inevitable global and national financial downturn, France will be able to get back on its feet as quickly as possible.

Here’s a look at the main points of the temporary measures.

Temporary unemployment

The government has allowed employers to declare chômage partiel (temporary unemployment) in a bid to prevent companies laying off staff en masse. To encourage those companies, hit hard by the coronavirus crisis, making workers redundant, the state has said it will foot most of the wage bill.

According to the government over 400,000 companies representing over four million workers had applied for the status on April 2nd.

If companies qualify for "chômage partiel" their workers will get 84 percent of their net salary during the period they are not working, while those earning minimum wage (€1,219 net a month) get their whole salary reimbursed. 

The measure only covers those earning up to 4.5 times the minimum wage (€4,607.82 net a month).

The benefit (indemnité) is paid by the employer who is then reimbursed by the state. Workers on a temporary (CDD) or permanent (CDI) contract whose company hit by the crisis will be covered.

France's jobs agency website Pôle Emploi says it is up to the employer not the employee to organise the paperwork.

"At the practical level, the employee does not have to take any steps to benefit from the partial activity allowance (no registration or updating). The employer is responsible for requesting the benefit from the regional labor administration (DIRECCTE)," reads the website.

READ ALSO: Chômage partiel: How to access temporary unemployment in France



A 60 hour work week

Employers may, during the period of coronavirus crisis management, require employees to work longer than what is normally allowed in France.

This goes for all “activities especially necessary to ensure the nation’s security and the continuation of economic and social life,” the government has stated. 

An employee may now work all of 60 hours one week, compared to 48 hours previously. The maximum work day has been extended to 12 hours, while the minimum period of rest has been decreased to 9 hours. 

Those who will be affected by the new rules are employees in the sectors like energy, telecom, logistics, transport and farmers.

A mandatory holiday

Employers may impose holiday on their employees during the coronavirus emergency - six days in total.

This does not mean that the employees get six extra days of holiday this year, but that businesses can force them to take some of their annual holiday entitlement, to limit financial losses following them being unable to work. 

Only businesses that have a pre existing agreement with unions may however make use of this point. If there are no unions in the business, an agreement needs to be made with the employees.

Employers may also require that employees take their RTT days (time off in lieu for people who have worked above their agreed hours) at a certain time. 

The new government measures will open for employers to impose up to 10 such days on their employees. 

Help package for self-employed workers

Self-employed people and small business owners that lose out during the coronavirus crisis may be eligible for a €1,500 help package that they will be able to apply for soon.

For more details on what the criteria are for getting this aid package, click here.

Other social measures

Businesses and self-employed will also be able to suspend payments on rent, gas and electricity.

Mortgage holiday

There is currently no 'holiday' for people paying a mortgage, with the government saying that the measures outlined above should mean that people are able to keep up with mortgage payments.



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