Quarantine compensated by the social security system, preventive health measures, imposed telework … The spread of the new coronavirus leads to the implementation of special provisions in companies, listed Friday by the government: what are the rights of employees and the obligations of employers?
- Compensated isolation –
14 days is the maximum estimated duration of the incubation period for Covid-19 disease, and therefore the recommended isolation period for people who have been exposed to the coronavirus, through contact with a patient or during a trip to a risk area.
A decree, published on February 1 in the Official Journal, relaxes for confined persons the compensation rules applied by Social Security in the context of sick leave.
The decree notably cancels the waiting periods and allows the payment of daily allowances from the first day of sick leave, for a maximum of twenty days. It is a doctor from the Regional Health Agency (ARS) who issues the judgment.
These measures also apply to parents whose child is subject to an isolation measure and who have no other means of childcare, according to the Q&A posted online Friday by the Ministry of Labor.
- Use of telework –
For people confined by the decision of a doctor from the Regional Health Agency (ARS), no teleworking possible. Because “it is a classic work stoppage, even if you are not sick and therefore it involves the same rules”, explains Eric Rocheblave, a lawyer specializing in labor law.
If there is no work stoppage, the government recommends that the employer favor telework “if the workstation allows it”. The Labor Code even provides that in the event of “epidemic risk”, the employer may have “recourse to telework without the agreement of the employee”.
He can ask the employee not to show up at his workplace. In this case, “his remuneration is maintained and his period of absence assimilated to a period normally worked opening the benefit to the same rights as the employees present in the company”, specifies the Ministry of Labor.
If no agreement is reached with the employer, the ministry advises the employee to request sick leave from the ARS doctor.
- Holidays –
If the employee has already set days off, “the employer can move” these days during the quarantine period “taking into account exceptional circumstances”, ensures the Ministry of Labor. On the other hand, “if the employee has not asked for leave, the employer cannot impose them”.
If the collective agreement or the branch agreement provides that it is the employer who fixes the days of RTT, the latter may have it to cover all or part of the 14 days.
- Right of withdrawal –
An employee can refuse to go to a risk zone by asserting their right to withdrawal, which allows them to stop working due to serious and imminent danger. The employee will be “protected by this right. The employer will not be able to sanction him for that”, notes Me Rocheblave.
“If there is a dispute, the judge will have to assess whether the employee had a legitimate reason” to see the danger, continues the lawyer, who advises to “question the occupational doctor”.
- What about the company? –
The main recommendation of the government to businesses is to “avoid business trips to risk areas”.
The Labor Code recalls that “the employer is responsible for the health and safety of the employees of his company”.
As such, it must “take preventive measures and actions of information, training, set up appropriate organizations and means”, details Me Rocheblave.
If an employee is infected with the virus, the employer must “proceed with the cleaning of the premises”, by equipping the cleaning staff with gowns, gloves and washing and rinsing bands for single use. Floor cleaning should be completed with a bleach pass.
“If the employer does nothing, then an employee contracts the disease and there is evidence of contamination in the workplace, the employer will have committed a fault,” warns Me Rocheblave.