France, like many other countries, has been facing heatwaves due to global warming. According to scientists and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's reports and predictions, such events are likely to become increasingly common.

The Labour Code currently does not provide for any specific provisions or regulations on heatwaves. As such, there is no legal maximum temperature for workplaces.

However, all employers are bound by general obligations set out in the Labour Code to preserve the health and safety of their employees.(1) Such obligations include:

  • updating occupational risk assessment documents to include heatwaves and listing concerned employees, as well as establishing protective measures;(2)
  • providing all employees with free drinking water;(3)
  • ensuring that air ventilation is provided in indoor premises where employees are located;(4)
  • allowing remote work in the event of extreme temperatures;
  • limiting the use of young workers in periods of extreme temperatures.(5)

Moreover, if an area of the country is placed under a weather-related red alert, employers in that region must conduct daily risk assessments with regards to employee health and safety. Employers will need to determine on a daily basis whether work activities can continue. In the construction sector, for example, working on rooves or carrying heavy goods during a heatwave may be considered a threat to employee wellbeing, which made lead to the closing of operations for the rest of the day.

In addition to the Labour Code, the government has also recently issued instructions relevant to working during heatwaves, following the ministerial directive of 7 May 2021 on the health management of heatwaves in mainland France. A new ministerial directive, which the General Labour Directorate published on 31 May 2022, strengthened the Organisation de la Réponse de Sécurité Civile's (Civil Rescue Organisation's) 2019 guide on health management during heatwaves. That directive set out practical actions for employers in the workplace, which include:

  • methods of monitoring employees;
  • appropriate actions for when a region is under red alert; and
  • details on compensation or recovering hours lost due to a heatwave.

For some professional activities – especially in the construction industry – employers must ensure that each employee's health and safety is protected, and the work site has been modified to provide this.(6) Moreover, employees must be given three litres of drinking water every day.(7) Finally, employers in the construction industry can offer employees furlough or coverage under an unemployment scheme for lost work time.

France has become increasingly concerned about environment-related issues, as is evidenced by the Climate Law, which was passed on 22 August 2021. Further regulations may be expected in the coming years, given that trade unions in France and elsewhere in the European Union have asked for an EU-wide regulation on maximum working temperatures, with a view to reducing disparities between member states.

For further information on this topic please contact Alexandra Tuil at Hogan Lovells by telephone (+33 1 53 67 47 47) or email (alexandra.tuil@​ The Hogan Lovells website can be accessed at


(1) Article L 4121-1 of the Labour Code.

(2) Article R 4121-1 of the Labour Code.

(3) Article R 4225-2 of the Labour Code.

(4) Article R 4222-1 of the Labour Code.

(5) Article D 4153-36 of the Labour Code.

(6) Article R 4225-1 of the Labour Code.

(7) Article R 4534-143 of the Labour Code.