Advertisement

Working in France For Members

What are France's laws around working from home that I need to know?

Author thumbnail
James Harrington - [email protected]
What are France's laws around working from home that I need to know?
What are the rules on remote working in France? (Photo by Chris DELMAS / AFP)

Remote working has become more common since the Covid-19 pandemic, but what are the rules in France? Can your boss really force you to work in an office?

Advertisement

The French aren’t especially fond of remote working – known as teletravail – figures published in 2023 show. 

According to a study led the German economic institute Ifo and Econ Pol Europe and published in Les Échos last August, the French are among the least likely of workers in 34 industrialised countries to work from home – averaging 0.6 days per week, compared to the European average of 0.8, and the global average of 0.9.

The policy is more in vogue in the USA (1.4 days per week), the UK (1.5 days), and Canada – where workers average a world-leading 1.7 days per week remote working.

Reasons for this appear to be open to interpretation – a certain hesitancy among employers to allow staff to work remotely, and a resulting lack of employees asking for the option because they believe their bosses are likely to say no. 

Officially, this appears not to be the case. A 2022 study found that 58 percent of company bosses in France were “ready to facilitate teleworking for employees who wish to live in another region”. But, “43 percent of managers believe that remote working has made their managerial position more complex.” The reasons for their concern? “The reduction of informal exchanges (for 37%), maintaining team cohesion (36%), and managing employees (34%)”.

Furthermore, the Ifo and Econ Pol Europe study found that 62 percent of employees cited work socialising as one of the key advantages of in-office working, while 43 percent welcomed the work-life distinction.

The fashion today in France, in light of the pros and cons of homeworking highlighted during the Covid 19 pandemic, appears to be for hybrid working, in which workers spend part of the week in the office and the rest working remotely.

Advertisement

But what are the rules if you do want to work remotely in France?

Private sector employees can negotiate an agreement to work remotely full or part time. If you request to work from home on a long-term basis, your boss has the right to refuse, but must give a reason.

The remote-working rules for public sector workers are different and slightly more complex.

But first, it’s a good idea to check any conventions collectifs – collective agreements – that exist in your profession or workplace. They may well have covered remote working already, so it is well worth checking out what this covers before beginning negotiations.

Your boss can also ask you to work from home. In normal circumstances, you can refuse and don't have to provide a reason. However, in the event of exceptional circumstances (such as, for example, a pandemic), remote working may be imposed on employees without their agreement.

Advertisement

Contract conditions

Assuming you are not a self-employed contractor, you will remain an employee of the company with the same rights as before, but if you switch to home-working permanently your employers must provide written conditions of your new working practices.

Among these must be a protocol for working hours and workflow regulation.

Employer and employee must also agree – before you start remote working – time slots during which your boss can contact you at home, in order to preserve your right to a private life.

In all other aspects, the employee is under the same obligations as if they worked in the office full-time. You must respect your employer’s instructions, working hours and conditions of use of equipment.

Advertisement

Work equipment

When an employee is working from home, the employer must provide, install and maintain any necessary equipment.

If, exceptionally, the teleworker uses his own equipment, the employer has to ensure it is appropriate for the job and is maintained.

In principle, setting up home-working should not entail any additional cost to the employee, so employers must supply and maintain any equipment that you reasonably need. Whether that is supplied directly, or through you ordering a work-station and claiming the expense back can be agreed between you and your employer.

The employer must also ensure that the employee is aware of restrictions on the use of computers, or electronic communication services. This includes limits on personal use, for example, and will likely remain the same rules as those in place in the office.

Allowances and expenses

Working from home can mean that electricity bills rise as workers use their own electricity for lights, coffee machines/kettles and computers.

Any fixed expenses – such as stationary, phone calls, printer cartridges, for example – can be claimed back from your employer on the production of receipts.

You are also entitled to ask your employer to share the cost of utilities like electricity, internet and heating.

If you work in a job where you receive restaurant vouchers, these cannot be withdrawn if you switch to home-working.

Data protection

The employer has an obligation to protect the data used and processed by its employees, including teleworkers.

This obligation applies whether the teleworker uses the employer's equipment or their own.

Health and safety

If you are working at home, your residence becomes your workplace for that day, with all that implies legally. For example, if you fall down your own stairs on a day you are working from home, that could count as a workplace accident and your employer could be liable.

Employer liability can be strict in France - remember this case when a court ruled that a man who died while having sex with a stranger on a business trip was the victim of a workplace accident? Not that we're suggesting any hard-working readers of The Local would be frittering away their working hours on casual sex, but it shows how strict the rules around the workplace can be for employers. 

Transport costs

Maybe you have agreed to work somewhere that’s closer to home. If so, an  employer is expected to cover half the cost 50 percent of subscription tickets for travel on public transport, or cycle rental, between their usual residence and their place of work.

If remote working is part-time, say one or two days per week, the level of support provided by the employer remains identical to that of an employee who is permanently with the company.

More

Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also