Remote working, office parties – These are the new health rules in French workplaces

Remote working, office parties - These are the new health rules in French workplaces
A co-working office in the business district of La Defense (Paris) in October 2020. Photo: Christophe ARCHAMBAULT / AFP.
The new health protocol came into effect in French workplaces on Wednesday, September 1st, and includes changes to remote working guidelines.

France’s Labour Ministry published its updated protocol for workers on Tuesday, as many people in France headed back to the office following the summer holidays. Here is what you need to know.

Working from home

From September 1st, the French labour ministry is no longer officially advising people to have a minimum number of days of télétravail (home-working).

Previously the government had recommended that employees split their time between home and office work if possible, with a minimum of two days per week working remotely – although this was always a recommendation and not a rule. This guidance has now ended, and it is between employees and their employers to decide on télétravail days. 

In the public sector, workers are entitled to work from home a maximum of three days per week, thanks to a separate agreement. From September, public servants will also be entitled to a work-from-home allowance of up to €220 per year.

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Social distancing measures

While many people will be returning to the office full-time, all is not back to normal, since companies are still required to follow health guidelines. It is still necessary to wear a mask in “closed collective spaces” such as open-plan offices, to respect a distance of one metre between people, and to ensure proper ventilation. Windows and doors should be open “ideally all the time if conditions allow, and at least 5 minutes every hour”.

With the goal of limiting large gatherings, virtual meetings “should still be prioritised”. In conference rooms and other closed spaces, it will be up to employers to set a limit on numbers if they want to – a minimum of 4 square metres per person is suggested, but not compulsory.

The return of leaving drinks?

A veritable institution in French workplaces, the pots (parties) will have been sorely missed during the pandemic, but under the new rules they could make a return, albeit in a modified form.

The new protocol allows for “moments of conviviality” between colleagues, as long as safety precautions such as masks and proper ventilation are respected. It is therefore “strongly recommended that these moments of conviviality are held outdoors.”

Vaccination

Although it is strongly encouraged, the Covid vaccine remains voluntary for most French workers. As the August 5th law, which also extended the health pass, states, workers are entitled to attend an appointment to get vaccinated during work time. They may also accompany a minor in their care who is receiving an injection, without losing pay.

READ ALSO Can my French boss force me to get the Covid vaccine?

For healthcare workers it’s a different story, although they are covered by a transition period. Until September 14th, they can go to work with a negative test from within the previous 72 hours, but from September 15th to October 15th, they will need to have had at least one vaccine dose. From October 16th, healthcare workers must be fully vaccinated in order to continue working.

Other employees will only need a health pass if they work in venues where visitors are asked to show the pass. It is not required in order to eat at the office canteen.

What if you need to self-isolate?

“Any person showing symptoms or considered a contact case must be invited by their employer not to come to work,” the new protocol states. If you are fully vaccinated, you do not need to self-isolate, but you should still take a test. You can find the full guidelines around self-isolation HERE.

If you are displaying symptoms of Covid-19 and need to self-isolate, but are not able to work from home, you are invited to make a declaration on the website declare.ameli.fr in order to receive compensation.


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