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France – Zero tolerance of alcohol in the workplace can be legal

Written by
Capstan Avocats, the law firm setting the benchmark for labour law in France.
When there is a high risk to employees or third parties, employers are entitled to prohibit the consumption of alcohol, including outside the workplace, for certain categories of workers, according to a recent judgement. 

In France, alcoholic beverages such as wine, beer, cider and perry are allowed in the workplace. Other alcoholic beverages are prohibited.

In circumstances where the consumption of these authorised drinks is likely to create a danger for workers, the employer must provide for measures to protect their health and safety and to prevent any risk of accident. These measures may include limiting or even prohibiting consumption of these alcoholic drinks in the workplace. Such measures must be proportionate to the purpose for which they are intended.

A recent judgement (CE, 8 July 2019, No 420434) specifies that the employer may also, where there is a particularly high danger to employees or third parties, prohibit any consumption of alcohol by the employees concerned, such as those occupying safety and security positions or those at risk. The prohibition can also cover the consumption of alcohol outside the workplace if this results in the employee being at work with alcohol in his or her system.