Companies with more than 20 employees in France must have internal regulations (règlement intérieur). This document sets out and specifies number of obligations, in particular regarding hygiene, safety or disciplinary sanctions, which the employee and the employer must respect within the company. The draft project must be submitted to the staff representative bodies. The internal regulations are then subject to the control of the labour authority.

New provisions must now be included in the internal regulations. These include:

  • the ban on vaping in the offices which enters into effect on October 1, 2017.
  • the right for employees to disconnect from company communication tools (computers, mobile phones, company email) during rest periods and periods when they are off duty. This is not mandatory but should be included in an annex to the internal regulations.
  • the internal rules of the company must not only recall the legal provisions on moral and sexual harassment, but also those which prohibit sexist behavior in the workplace.

In addition to those new mandatory provisions, the law combined with the Court of Justice of the European Union’s recent decisions dated March 14, 2017 dealing with a Belgium and French cases, now gives the possibility for the company to impose a neutrality duty and accordingly to include provisions preventing employees from expressing their religious or philosophical convictions and identities, subject to some conditions (mainly, such restriction should in practice apply to employees who interact directly with clients.)

Although this law and the European rulings are generally welcomed by French employers, particular vigilance as to the drafting of those clauses should be paid, as this remains a possible area of dispute. Indeed, some associations consider such provisions as inherently discriminatory and particularly islamophobic as it could in practice prevent female employees from wearing the Islamic headscarf; the Constitutional court might well be asked to issue its opinion on the validity of this law. The French Supreme Court is expected to hand down its own decision in September of this year and provide clear guidelines on what companies may and may not do.