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New health and safety protocol for employees in France: what has changed?

Written by
Capstan Avocats, the law firm setting the benchmark for labour law in France.
The French Labour Ministry has published a new set of COVID-19 health and safety guidelines for employees.


On 30 June, the Ministry of Labour put online a new version of the National Protocol for employee health and safety in the workplace in the context of the COVID-19 epidemic (download below). This version aims ‘to prepare the fourth step of the reopening strategy related to the improvement of the health situation.’ It does not contain any new provisions on teleworking.


Among the main new provisions, employers are asked to ‘Promote the vaccination of employees including during working hours.’ The Protocol states:


‘If the employee chooses to go through the occupational health service, s/he is allowed to be absent during working hours. No sick leave is required and the employer may not object to the employee’s absence under any circumstances. The employee can informs the employer that s/he will be absent for a medical examination without having to specify the reason.


Apart from these situations, employers are expected, in the light of public health requirements, to authorise their employees to be absent from work during working hours, in order to facilitate their access to vaccination. The employee should contact his or her employer to determine the best way to organise this absence.

In addition, employees with a long-term illness that qualifies them for exemption are entitled to time off work for this vaccination, which is necessary because of their state of health. The employer cannot oppose this.

Workplace socialising

The new protocol no longer sets out rules on this. It now states:


‘Convivial moments bringing together employees in the workplace may be organised in strict compliance with barrier measures, in particular mask wearing, ventilation and distancing rules. In this context, it is recommended that these moments of conviviality be held in outdoor areas.’


The information sheet on the organisation and operation of company restaurants has also been updated (download below).

This new version includes:

  • The removal of the maximum 50% capacity.
  • The end of the maximum number of six people per table ‘coming together or having booked together’ rule.
  • the end of the minimum distance of two metres between occupied tables. ‘The installation of dividing walls to prevent splashing between tables is still ‘recommended’.
  • The use of water fountains is permitted. They must be maintained, cleaned and disinfected ‘scrupulously and frequently, (front, dispensing buttons, fountain nozzles, etc.) with suitable products. It is also important to ‘respect the renewal of bottles. Display information on barrier measures: hand hygiene before and after use and make hydro-alcoholic gel available. Post instructions to avoid contact between the tap of the fountain and the individual container (neck of the bottle, glass, cup…).’


All other rules continue to apply:

  • wear a mask for the general public with a filtration level of over 90% (category 1) or a surgical mask, systematically when moving around the restaurant, except at the table;
  • keep a distance of one metre and keep your mask on in queues and when moving around the restaurant;
  • adapting the time slots and setting up staggered services to reduce the number of diners present at the same time, etc.


Download the Protocol here and the rules on workplace catering here.