Legal overview of home office in France
The home office obligation in Germany expires on 20th March 2022. It remains to be seen whether a flexible change, i.e. a hybrid work model, will become common in companies or whether a return to face-to-face work is imminent. But let's take a look at our neighbouring country and see how they deal with the home office.
Home office work is regulated by law in France compared to other countries. The legal framework is mainly found in Articles L. 1229-9 et seq. of the Labour Code. It dates back to the law of 22nd March 2012 and was amended by Decree No. 2017-1387 of 22nd September 2017. Home office is a professional activity that can be carried out fully or partly outside the company's premises at the request of the employee or the employer. Workers benefit from special guarantees.
What is home office?
Home office is a form of work organisation based on information and communication technologies. The home office enables or requires the employed person to work outside the company's premises. The employee can therefore work either at home or in a desk sharing centre*.
*A desk-sharing centre is an office space equipped with computers that is made available to employees from different companies or administrations if they live far away from their company or, for example, have a nomadic occupation.
The implementation of home office
Home office is established either within the framework of a collective agreement, based on the outcome of negotiations between the social partners (employers and employees), or within the framework of a charter created by the employers after consultation with the CSE, if one exists. In the absence of a charter or collective agreement, both parties agree on the use of home office by formalising their agreement in some way.
In France two forms of home office exist:
- Regular home office allows regular working hours. This arrangement is set out in the collective agreement or in the charter created by the employer after consulting the CSE (if any).
- Occasional Home Office allows arrangements to be made in exceptional circumstances (e.g. Covid 19 epidemic).
Note: In exceptional circumstances (e.g. the threat of an epidemic), home office can be arranged without the consent of the workers. This provision also applies in cases of force majeure. These measures can be taken to ensure the continuity of the company and the protection of workers.
The organisation of work
The collective agreement or the charter drawn up by the employer shall specify the following elements:
- Jobs that are eligible for home office
- Conditions for changing to home office (e.g. in case of pollution) and for returning to a work contract without home office
- How the worker accepts the conditions for performing the home office
- How the working time can be controlled or the workload regulated
- How to determine the time windows in which the employer can usually contact the employee in the context of remote work
Duties of employers and general rights of employees
The homeworker is an employee of the enterprise. This person has the same individual and collective rights as all workers:Access to training
- Respect for private life
- Right to separate between work and private life (e.g. by switching off the company mobile phone).
- Health and safety at work
- Access to company social activities, union information, social benefits (e.g. meal vouchers, holiday vouchers)
- Termination of home office
- The employee has priority to take up or return to a non-teleworking job that matches professional qualifications and skills.
Employers must inform the employee of the availability of such a workplace. In addition, the employee has the right to refuse the remote work. This does not constitute grounds for termination of the employment contract. If employees accept remote work, employers must organise an annual interview to discuss the working conditions and workload of the employee. Employers are also obliged to inform workers of any restrictions on the use of computer equipment or tools or electronic communication services, and that they may be subject to sanctions for non-compliance. In addition, employers must reimburse workers for costs incurred in the performance of the employment contract. This reimbursement can be made either on the basis of the actual and proven costs incurred by the workers (invoice receipts) or through the payment of a sum.
An accident that occurs at the home office workplace during the performance of professional activities is considered as an occupational accident.