How will changes to France’s labour laws affect you in 2021?

France has extended its Covid-19-related changes to the labour law for another six months, here's a look at how that could impact you.

How will changes to France's labour laws affect you in 2021?
People work in a co-working office in La Défense, Paris' business strict, on October 7th. Photo: AFP

What has happened?

The French government has prolonged changes in its Code du Travail labour law until the end of June 2021 in a decree published on December 16th.

France made the temporary changes in March 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic forced the government to impose a strict nationwide lockdown that halted its economy to a near-standstill.

Relaxing the labour law was meant to help businesses to weather the economic downturn and prevent chain bankruptcies and mass unemployment.

The changes was set to end on December 31st but the government has decided to extend it by six months.

READ ALSO These are the days off work you are entitled to in France

Who is affected?

Broadly speaking the law affects the right of some employees to paid leave and holidays as well as those working on short term contracts.
In some businesses, employers may unilaterally impose paid days of paid leave on their employees and/or break up or change already settled days of leave.
This is however only possible in businesses where a collective agreement allows for such measures, and even then the total number of days the employer may make such changes is limited to six in total.
Employers may also decide when an employee is to take their RTT days, the special French overtime days.
No collective agreement is required for the employer to access these rights. However the total number of imposed RTT days is limited to 10 maximum.
For short-time employers on fixed-term contracts (CDDs), the employer may increase the total number of times it is allowed to legally renew these contracts. This too is limited to businesses where there is a collective agreement around this.
Usually in France a CCD must be turned into a CDI (longterm contract) after a certain number of renewals, a measure in place in order to ensure worker's right to stability.

For full details, go to the government's website, LINK HERE.

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Experts warn of high levels of flu in France this winter

Experts have warned of a particularly bad flu epidemic this winter in France due to a combination of lowered immune systems and 'vaccine apathy' - urging high-risk groups to get their shot as soon as the flu vaccination campaign begins in October.

Experts warn of high levels of flu in France this winter

France’s annual flu vaccine campaign will officially get under way on October 18th this year – and medical experts have warned that this year’s season may be a bad one amid fears of “vaccine apathy”.

When, where and how to get flu shots and Covid boosters in France this autumn

Immunologist Alain Fischer, who chaired France’s Conseil d’orientation de la stratégie vaccinale throughout the Covid-19 pandemic said that the high number of flu cases in Australia and the southern hemisphere in its winter were “a warning sign” that this winter’s flu, coupled with rising cases of Covid-19, could lead to a sharp rise in hospitalisations again in the winter.

“For two years, influenza has been kept at bay, thanks to the barrier measures we have put in place against Covid,” he told Le Parisien. 

“This year, it will be difficult to maintain the same level of protection: masks, distancing, intensive hand washing … Faced with this relaxation, there is a serious risk of flu epidemic.”

Between two million and six million people contract flu every winter in France. The infection is responsible for between 4,000 and 6,000 deaths every year, usually among people aged 65 and over. But in ‘bad’ flu years, that mortality figure can rise rapidly.

READ ALSO When, where and how to get flu shots and Covid boosters this autumn in France

The country, meanwhile, is at the start of what is being described as an “eighth wave” of Covid, and the Haute Autorité de santé recommends the eligible, vulnerable people ensure they are vaccinated against both viruses as early as possible. “A Covid-flu cohabitation is not a good thing,”  Fischer said. “It is synonymous with a very high number of hospitalisations. 

“Hence the objective of two strong vaccination campaigns – Covid and flu – especially for the most vulnerable.”

“The double injection is very good, and practical for patients. But I think that we should not wait, especially vulnerable people. It is a mistake to think that you will get your Covid booster when the flu vaccine is here – the Covid jab should not be delayed.”

Currently less than 40 percent of people eligible for a fourth Covid vaccine have received their latest dose.

Dual-strain Covid-19 vaccines designed to combat both delta and omicron variants will be available in France from October 3rd.

READ ALSO France approves new vaccines for Covid Omicron sub-variants

“It is quite possible to get your Covid injection in early October and flu vaccine in late October – you will need both anyway,” Fischer said.

The Haute Autorité de Santé recommends influenza vaccination for the following groups:

  • people aged 65 and over; 
  • people with chronic diseases; 
  • pregnant women;
  • people suffering from obesity (BMI equal to or greater than 40 kg/m 2 );
  • Infants under 6 months at risk of serious influenza;
  • Families and others close to immunocompromised people; 
  • home help workers caring for vulnerable individuals.

For anyone in these groups, the flu vaccine is 100 percent covered by health insurance and delivered free of charge to the pharmacy, on presentation of a voucher.