French workers to begin returning to offices from June 9th

French workers to begin returning to offices from June 9th
Photo: Ludovic Marin/AFP
Workers in France will begin returning to the office from June 9th, as the government ends its advisory on 100 percent remote working as part of the gradual reopening of the country.

The government has asked all employees who can work from home to do so since October, although there are allowances in place for people who find remote working difficult or impractical and there are no fines in place for people who continue to go to their workplace.

According to Le Parisien, a new health protocol will be published online next week, and will bring an end to the guideline imposing 100 percent remote working where possible.

June 9th marks the third step in France’s reopening plan when – health situation permitting – bars, restaurants and cafés will be able to open up their indoor spaces and travel from outside the EU including the USA will again be permitted.

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“We are giving the power back to employers and workers to determine the appropriate number of days, but this does not mean abandoning remote working,” labour minister Élisabeth Borne told the newspaper.

“This practice is still recommended in order to fight effectively against the pandemic.”

Borne advocated for a progressive return to work, and announced that employees in the public sector will transition to three days working from home, and two days in the office, from June 9th.

In the private sector, the number of days spent in the office will be decided through discussions between businesses, workers and trade unions, which are set to begin on Monday, according to Le Parisien.

“An employer who forces staff to return to the office every day from June 9th will be in violation of the protocol,” Borne added.

Speaking on France Info, Laurent Berger, head of the CFDT trade union, said it was important to ensure there is “not just a consultation, but a real social dialogue.”

“What I fear is that on June 9th it will be unilateral, companies will decide that you do two or three days of remote-working and that’s how it is, we don’t listen to the workers,” he added.

The announcement will come as a relief to many who have not seen their colleagues in months, but the experience of remote working is not something people in France are ready to give up entirely. According to the results of a survey by OpinionWay, which Le Parisien revealed on Tuesday, 8 out of 10 workers want to continue working from home between one and three days per week.

The return to the office does not mean a return to normal, either.

Preventative measures will remain mandatory, including rules on physical distancing and ventilation.

Office canteens will be limited to 50 percent capacity and must maintain a one-metre distance between seats.

Mask-wearing will remain compulsory in the workplace.

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