Friday, January 28

Covid-19. Teleworking: fines of up to 50,000 euros for recalcitrant companies

Recalcitrant employers could be sanctioned more quickly: an administrative fine of up to 1,000 euros per employee concerned, up to a limit of 50,000 euros, will be introduced to crack down on companies that do not play the telecommuting game in the face of Covid- 19.

Labor Minister Elisabeth Borne unveiled the principle of this fine to the social partners on Tuesday. She said Thursday the amount on LCI this morning. An amendment to this effect will be tabled by the end of the week to the bill on the vaccine pass, discussed in session from Monday in the Assembly.

A minority of companies concerned

“We see that most companies play the game very well (…). There are a few companies which do not do it, which do not follow the recommendations of the labor inspectorate and which take advantage of the length of the sanctioning procedure to not respect the rules, ”she explained. “I want a faster and therefore more dissuasive system by allowing the labor inspectorate to be able to pronounce sanctions without waiting for the legal procedure,” she continued.

Regarding controls, Ms. Borne recalled that she had asked in early December to return to 5,000 per month (against less than a thousand in October). A new national company protocol (PNE) must be published on Thursday, obliging entities which can do so to increase teleworking to three or four days a week on average, for all employees for whom this is possible, from from January 3 and for a period of three weeks.

Not “mandatory” by law, but penalties may apply

While this PNE does not strictly speaking have the force of law, employers have an obligation to ensure the health of their employees, according to the labor code, and labor inspectors can already issue “formal notices” when ‘they consider that the measures implemented in the controlled companies are insufficient. According to the CGT-TEFP, the first union of labor inspection agents, some 28,000 interventions were carried out on the theme of Covid from January to November 2021, giving rise to 110 formal notices.

But the CGT-TEFP would have preferred that the inspectors could suspend the activity of a company in the event of failure to meet its obligations concerning teleworking, as they can do in matters of exposure to asbestos, falls from heights or electrical hazards. The Medef for its part said Thursday “opposed to the principle (of a fine), whatever the amount, because it is a bad blow to confidence between the government and companies, especially more unjust than they were exemplary in the crisis ”.

After the intervention of Elisabeth Borne, Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne wanted to reassure the bosses. The Minister Delegate in charge of Tourism and SMEs assured RMC: “In the vast majority of cases, everything will fall into place, before arriving at a sanction, there will be remarks, formal notices” . The latter renewed his “confidence” in entrepreneurs.

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