The French Parliament has just adopted a new law designed to enable the public authorities to combat the COVID-19 epidemic more effectively. The law covers two main measures:
Since the law of 31 May 2021 took effect, France has introduced a ‘health pass’ obligation, which consists of making access to certain places conditional on the presentation of proof of the person’s state of health (vaccination certificate, result of a virological screening test with a negative result for COVID-19, or certificate of recovery from COVID-19).
The new text greatly extends the possibilities for using the health pass. While currently the pass can only be required for access to certain places, establishments or events involving large gatherings of people for leisure activities or trade fairs, it would be extended to:
From 30 August, any employee who is required to justify his or her health status in order to carry out professional duties, even if s/he does not carry out a directly regulated activity directly (such as an employee required to travel using long-distance public transport; or an employee required to visit clients whose activity is regulated) will have to present a health pass.
If the employee does not present the evidence required (certificates or test results), his or her employment contract will be immediately suspended without pay, unless s/he decides, in agreement with the employer, to use contractual rest days or paid holidays. The suspension is notified by the employer and ends as soon as the employee produces a health pass.
When this situation continues beyond the equivalent of three days worked, the employer must invite the employee to an interview to examine with him or her ways of resolving the situation, in particular the scope for an assignment, if necessary temporary, within the company to another position that is not subject to this obligation.
However, fixed-term employment contracts may be terminated before their term.
These health pass provisions will expire on 15 November 2021.
The new vaccination requirement will apply to:
A person covered by the vaccination obligation can demonstrate s/he is compliant with:
Provisionally, a negative COVID-19 virological test is also accepted until 14 September. Proof of administration of at least one dose of vaccine plus a negative COVID-19 virological test will be accepted from 15 September to 15 October 2021.
Failure by the employer to comply with the obligation to monitor compliance with the vaccination requirement is punishable by a fine of EUR 1500. If such a violation is reported more than three times within a period of 30 days, it is punishable by one year’s imprisonment and a fine of EUR 9,000.
In companies with at least 50 employees, the employer must inform the Social and Economic Committee (CSE), without delay and by any means, of the monitoring measures it intends to implement resulting from its obligations relating to:
The CSE’s opinion may be given after the employer has implemented these measures, at the latest within a period of one month from the date on which the employer communicates information on these measures to the CSE.
The law is currently being examined by the Constitutional Council, which will give its decision on 5 August.