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Télétravail: What are the rules as French workers return to the office?

While the easing of restrictions means restaurants, cafés, shops and cultural venues are now open, working from home continues to be the rule in France for the time being. But when can we expect to go back to the workplace?

Télétravail: What are the rules as French workers return to the office?
Since March 2020, the government's recommendation is that anyone whose job can be done from home should work entirely from home. Photo: Philippe LOPEZ / AFP

Since March 2020, the government’s recommendation is that anyone whose job can be done from home should work entirely from home, known in French as télétravail. This is still the rule for the time being, before the next step of the relaxing of restrictions on June 9th.

Who should still be working from home?

Everyone who can work from home should be doing so. Under current rules, all companies must allow their employees to work from home if the employee requests it.

However the Labour ministry and the National Association of Human Resources Directors (ANDRH) say they have already noticed a high number of people returning to the workplace.

The Labour ministry’s protocol also states that employees who feel that their mental health is being adversely affected by 100 percent home-working can have one day a week in the workplace.

When can I start to go back to the workplace?

A relaxing of restrictions will begin on June 9th, as part of the third phase of loosening restrictions.

From this date employers can start to ask their employees to progressively return to the office. The Labour ministry is expected to provide more details on this in the coming days.

Each company will have to decide on a minimum amount of days per week that it will allow its employees to work from home, and they will have to ensure a strict social distancing measures for returning to the office in order to ensure the safety of its workers.

READ ALSO: Your rights and responsibilities if you work from home in France

Do I have to go back on June 9th?

Some employees will be keen to get back into the workplace and see their colleagues again, while others have grown to like home-working.

Where you work is a conversation between employer and employee. Before the pandemic, the rules said that if the employee requested to work from home the employer could refuse, but had to give a reason.

Conversely, employees could refuse requests to work from home and did not have to give a reason.

During the health emergency, however, bosses were able to compel employees to work from home while employees have more rights to work from home if they want to.

While the pandemic is still ongoing, it will be difficult for employers to say no to requests to work from home, lawyer Dahlia Arfi-Elkaïm told Le Parisien. “If employers want their employees to come back to the office they will have to justify why working from home is no longer an option,” she said.

While June 9th marks the end of the government recommendation to work from home, employees can continue doing this if they and their bosses agree.

According to the annual barometer on working from home by Malakoff Humains, the ideal situation for most people is a maximum of two days of working from home per week.

What is the health protocol when returning to the office?

Earlier this week, the health ministry revealed its new updated health protocol following the latest recommendations from the Public Health Council.

Employers must ensure that workplaces are properly ventilated, which is considered an essential measure for preventing high risk situations where Covid-19 can spread more easily.

READ ALSO: France can ‘turn the page’ on Covid crisis by November, says health minister

Keeping the windows open is therefore highly recommended, or even installing CO2 detectors to measure the carbon dioxide in the air. 

Wearing a mask both inside and outside the office remains a requirement.

And when it comes to canteens and office kitchens, the rule is for one single person to sit at a table at one time. This measure could soon be relaxed, but socialising or having a coffee with colleagues is still not allowed.

What about employees who haven’t been vaccinated?

The updated health protocols encourage employers to authorise their staff to get vaccinated during work hours. Employees will just need to let their bosses know that they will be absent “for a medical visit”, without having to specify the reason.

The updated protocol also introduces the option of home-testing kits in the workplace.

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Warning: 6 of the most common scams in France to watch out for

From computer hacking to phone calls, a new report reveals that scams and frauds are unfortunately on the rise in France and the criminals are getting more sophisticated - here are some of the most common frauds to be aware of.

Warning: 6 of the most common scams in France to watch out for

France’s fraud and financial crime watchdog, Tracfin, has published its annual report, indicating that fraudulent activity has become both more frequent and more evolved in the last year.

The report highlighted the most significant forms of fraud tracked by the watchdog. In particular, it found that CPF (Compte Personnel de Formation) scams represented a significant proportion of the fraudulent activity registered this year. 

These are the scams the report highlighted:

The CPF scam: The Compte Personnel de Formation is available to all employees in France. Essentially, they are given access to money each year for free professional training (€800 for unskilled workers, €500 for full-time, skilled workers).

This is a real, government-backed scheme with a genuine website and app – it’s particularly useful for foreigners in France because the money can be used for French classes. Here’s how it works.

Unfortunately, however, the name is frequently used by scammers and Tracfin director Guillaume Valette-Valla warned that these scams have become more professional, often now involving transnational criminal organisations, particularly those located outside the EU, as well as shell companies that exist to siphon off the public money.

A lot of these scams involve SMS messages and phone calls warning people that they would lose their allowance and urging them to sign up to training courses have become increasingly frequent. These messages often contain fraudulent links asking recipients to enter their personal details onto dodgy websites.

The presence of CPF shell companies dramatically increased in 2021, according to the report. Tracfin received 116 reports of suspicion of shell companies, which is a significant increase from the 10 reported in 2020. 

For CPF fraud overall, the scams racked in accounted for over €43.2 million compared to €7.8 million a year earlier.

READ MORE: Beyond the scams: How to use France’s €500 training budget

The carte vitale scam – if you live in France your carte vitale is a vital document, allowing you to access publicly funded healthcare.

An increasingly common scam is sending a text message or email telling a person that their carte vitale is about to expire, and to click on the link and enter their details to keep it active. This is a scam, the carte vitale does not expire. If you need to make any changes to your card or request a new one if you have lost of stolen it, use your online Ameli account or visit your local CPAM office.

Driving scams – summer is the time of year when thousands of people – both locals and tourists – take to the roads for a trip away, and scammers often prey on drivers.

Some scammers operate at service stations, approaching non-French drivers and spinning them a sob story to try and extort money, while others operate insurance scams by pretending that you have damaged their car. There are also sporadic reports of ‘fake cops’ who try to issue on-the-spot cash fines to cars with foreign number plates.

Driving in France: The common scams thieves try on foreign motorists

Postal scams – it’s a very common experience to get a message from La Poste or a parcel courier telling you that you were out when they tried to deliver a package. Usually you will just need to arrange another time or head to the post office, but beware of text messages or emails telling you that there are outstanding charges for a parcel, with a link to enter your card details.

Couriers do not operate like this and if there are any outstanding postage or customs charges, you pay them in person not via a link in an email or SMS.

Ransomware attacks – France also saw a rise in ransomware attacks – particularly those targeting small businesses.

In 2021, the French National Agency for Information Systems Security (ANSSI) handled 203 ransomware attacks, compared to 192 in 2020 and 69 in 2019. This represents an increase of 194 percent increase in incidents handled in two years. These attacks were predominantly (over 52 percent) targeted at very small, small and medium-sized businesses.

Ransomware attacks are on the rise for two reasons: a lack of digital literacy and security, and an increased specialisation and professionalisation of the criminal ecosystem.

Fraud on government schemes: Tracfin also noted a rise in fraudulent declarations for government schemes, particularly those made available as emergency responses to the Covid-19 crisis.

These were mostly represented by misuse of compensation for short-time work, emergency aid for companies, self-employed people and business owners, and state-guaranteed loans.

Looking forward – the report also warned how NFTs (Non-fungible tokens) could constitute an additional fraud and cybersecurity risk for people across the country.

So far, Tracfin has received reports of scams involving NFTs whose value has been artificially increased (“pump and dump”), NFTs copying or plagiarizing original works without having the copyright or simply fake NFTs that disappear once they are downloaded from a fraudulent website. The watchdog also highlighted that NFTs could eventually be used for tax fraud. 

On top of tracking scams within France, Tracfin was also involved in tracking down the assets of Russian oligarchs after sanctions against Moscow went into place following the invasion of Ukraine, estimating that €1.18 billion worth of financial and non-financial assets have been frozen in France since the beginning of the conflict.

If you are contacted by a company and you are not sure if it is genuine, the French government has compiled a ‘blacklist’ of dodgy companies that frequently try and defraud people – you can find it here.

If you think you may have fallen victim to a scam, particularly if you have shared your banking information, the first step is to contact your bank. You can learn more about what to do in this scenario, HERE