Covid-19: The curfew is maintained and the health protocol applicable to companies has been updated

On February 4th, 2021, the French Prime Minister Jean Castex announced that the cost of a third lockdown in France would be higher than its benefit, according to the current evolution of the epidemic in France. He did stress however that a slackening in the efforts made against the spread of the virus is not currently an option.

A third lockdown is not being implemented for now, but the current curfew continues to apply

One of the main measures representative of these efforts is the curfew, which is effective in France between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m., since the publication of a decree on January 16th, 2021.

As a reminder, the non-compliance with this curfew is subject to a fine of €135, in the absence of a statement justifying of a derogatory motive. The French government provides a professional exemption certificate (“Justificatif de déplacement professionnel”) on its website.

As it was already specified during the lockdowns, this supporting document must be completed by the employer to justify any business travel of the employees during the curfew, i.e.:

– usual journey between the employee’s home and his/her place of work, or between different places of work when it is required by the nature of his/her duties;

– business travel, when it cannot be postponed, at the request of the employer.

As a reminder, a statement certified by the employee is not required, in addition to this supporting document. Employees travelling between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. for professional reasons are only required to present the professional exemption certificate signed by their employer in the event of a police control.

Telecommuting at 100% becomes the rule for all employees whose activity allow them to work from home

In the current exceptional circumstances, related to the threat of the epidemic, the French Government has indicated that telecommuting must be the rule for all activities which allow it. In this context, the working time performed remotely is increased to 100% for employees who can perform all of their tasks from home.

The possibility for these employees to work from their company’s premises remains derogatory, within the maximum limit of one day per week for isolated workers who request it, with the employer’s approval.

In this regard, the Ministry of Labor plans to strengthen the controls of the labor inspection.

Regarding other employees who cannot telecommute, the organization of work must be adapted as much as possible, in order to reduce their travel time between home and work and in order to adapt their time of presence on the company’s premises.

Indeed, for activities which cannot be carried out by telecommuting or regarding tasks that cannot be performed remotely, the employer must systematically organize a rotation of the employee’s departure and arrival times in order to limit the number of people during peak hours.

The French Government also provides new details about the wearing of a mask and the safe distances to be respected by the employees who cannot telecommute

These measures don’t apply to employees who are working alone in an individual office as long as they stay in this office and don’t receive other people in. It is also acceptable that some employees cannot wear a mask because the nature of their activity doesn’t permit it.

Wearing a mask and respecting the safe distances is however mandatory for all other employees who are working within the company’s premises, in closed collective places. The French Government specifies that homemade masks and lower filtration masks (corresponding to the so-called “category 2″ masks) are no longer allowed. Each employee concerned by the obligation to wear a mask should therefore use the “general public filtration greater than 90%” masks (corresponding to the so-called “category 1” masks) or a surgical-type mask.

Moreover, each employee should have enough space in compliance with the physical distancing of at least 1 meter, considering all other persons around (employee, client, provider, etc.).

It is specified that this physical distance is increased to 2 meters:

– when a mask cannot be worn (for some categories of employees),

– in the collective catering areas,

– in outdoor spaces,

– in workshops where the employees are allowed not to wear the mask while the ventilation/aeration conditions comply with the regulations and the number of people allowed in is limited. The distance of 2 meters must also be respected when moving and employees must wear a protective visor.

– in the changing rooms when the mask must be removed (example: shower).

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