• Insights

The end of the French COVID state of emergency: what you need to know

Written by
Capstan Avocats, the law firm setting the benchmark for labour law in France.
France
11.06.21
2
The French state of emergency relating to the COVID-19 crisis ended on 1 June 2021. This article explains how the new rules in place impact employers.
The end of the State of Health Emergency and the Health Crisis Exit Law

The state of health emergency ended on 1 June 2021. This regime had no direct impact on labour law, as many exceptional measures had an end date outside this date. 

However, Law No. 2021-689 of 31 May 2021 on the management of the end of the health crisis, which introduces an intermediate regime between the state of health emergency and ordinary law in many areas, extends the arrangements that should have ended, for the most part, on 30 June 2021. The new text sets their end date at 30 September 2021. 

This applies in particular to: 

  • the adaptation of the rules for meetings and deliberations of assemblies and governing bodies; 
  • derogations from the rules on the use of fixed-term contracts and temporary work; 
  • exceptional rules on the temporary transfer of employees; 
  • holidays, with the employer now able to require employees to take eight days instead of six; 
  • the rules for remote meetings of staff representatives; 
  • the role of the occupational physician and its right to prescribe sick leave.  

 

Finally, with regard to professional appraisal interviews, the law extends the following until 30 September 2021: 

  • the employer’s option to demonstrate compliance with the obligations regarding professional interviews (compliance with either the conditions provided for by Act No. 2014-288 of 5 March 2014 or Act No. 2018-771 of 5 September 2018); 
  • the suspension of the provisions imposing the payment of a corrective contribution of EUR 3,000 in the event of non-compliance with these obligations. 
The end of 100% telework: a new Protocol

The new Health Protocol, which applies from 9 June 2021, puts an end to the principle that 100% telework should be the rule. The text now states that employers must set a minimum number of days of telework per week within the framework of local social dialogue, for employment activities for which telework is feasible. The action plan to reduce attendance time is no longer required. 

In addition, video conference meetings are still the preferred option. When meetings are held face-to-face, they must comply with barrier measures, in particular the wearing of masks, ventilation measures for the premises and the rules on social distancing. Each employee must be kept informed of the measures taken by the employer. 

Finally, social events, which were previously suspended, can once again be organised in strict compliance with barrier measures (in particular the wearing of masks, ventilation measures and social distancing rules). In this context, it is recommended that social events be held in outdoor areas and not involve more than 25 attendees. 

A new information sheet on the organisation and operation of company restaurants, applicable from 9 June 2021, is also available here. It states in particular that employees are no longer required to lunch alone; it is possible to lunch in groups of no more than six people, either coming together or having booked together.