Working Time and Paid Leave: Exemptions to Address COVID-19 Crisis

New Legislation Enacted

The French government is now allowing employers to require employees to take their paid leave in advance. This provision, designed to address the COVID-19 pandemic, will remain in force until December 31, 2020. For employers to unilaterally impose, modify or split paid leave dates is subject to the signature of a company-level or branch agreement. The agreement must specify the conditions in which employers may implement this option, as well as the limits and required notice. Businesses facing economic hardship may also unilaterally require employees take rest days, without a collective agreement, as long as the employer meets various conditions. The government also will relax the rules on maximum working hours, as well as Sunday rest, via a decree. To date, only businesses working on epidemiological surveillance are exempted from the Sunday rest requirement.

Passing of a Child: New Leave and Support Measures

New Legislation Enacted

Law no. 2020-692 increased the bereavement leave for the death of a child from five to seven days when the child was younger than 25 years of age at the time of death. The Law, which was enacted to improve worker rights and support families after the death of a child, also created a new type of “grief leave” that can be combined with the seven-day leave, giving employees the possibility to be absent from work for a total of 15 days. Employees must notify their employer and can use this leave any time within one year of the child's passing. The cost of the leave, which is borne between the employer and Social Security Services, does not affect the employee’s remuneration, is considered working time, and cannot be deducted from the employee's annual leave. Just like employees can donate their days off to a colleague whose child is gravely ill, employees can do so in cases of the child’s death and if the child was less than 25 years old. The Law also created a protection against termination of an employment contract during the 13 weeks subsequent to the child’s death.

Debtor of Wage Claims When Employment Contract is Recognized After a Business Transfer

Precedential Decision by Judiciary or Regulatory Agency

On May 27, 2020, the French Supreme Court overturned an appellate court in an important decision on whether a former or new employer was responsible for the employee’s wage claim, when the employment contract was recognized after a business transfer. The Court of Appeal had found both employers liable and apportioned the responsibility based on the time the employee had worked for each employer (i.e., specifically, 18 months with the first employer, and 12 months with the second) and split the termination-related fees equally between each. In overruling this decision, the French Supreme Court held that unless there had been fraudulent collusion between both employers, only the new employer was liable to pay the debt resulting from the continuation of the employment contract.

"Bore Out," Resulting from the Removal of Tasks, Can Constitute Moral Harassment

Precedential Decision by Judiciary or Regulatory Agency

On June 2, 2020, Paris’ Court of Appeal ruled that “bore out” - contrary to “burn out” and resulting from boredom due to a lack or absence of work - can constitute moral harassment. In a period of two years, the employee’s tasks were limited to validating 231 bills, as well as being the main contact person between the company and a service provider. The Court found that the lack of work or absence of interesting tasks contributed to the employee’s eventual depressive state and the employer had failed to ensure that the employee received periodic occupational medicine attention. Accordingly, the Court concluded, the employer had failed to demonstrate that the company’s actions did not result in moral harassment.