Compulsory teleworking: questions around the sanctions hovering over “recalcitrant” companies

A simple red rag or a real twist on the part of the executive? Whatever the answer, the Ministry of Labor surprised the social partners, who met Tuesday, December 28 in the morning by videoconference to discuss the “compulsory” extension of telework to three or four days a week, by announcing that administrative sanctions could be taken against companies “Recalcitrant”.

“We carried out a survey before the holidays which indicates that 60% of employees who have a teleworkable position do indeed telework, which shows that there is a very clear margin for improvement”, we explain to the cabinet of Minister Elisabeth Borne to support this decision. However, the Rue de Grenelle does not have any figures allowing to assess the number of refractory companies which have not, since the spring of 2020, wished to set up a teleworking agreement for their employees, simply stressing that “The vast majority of companies play the game”.

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Likewise, there is already an arsenal of sanctions applicable to these companies which derogate from the rules provided for: the labor inspectorate can carry out checks, not only on the implementation of teleworking, but also on all the provisions provided for by the corporate health protocol (wearing a mask, distancing, etc.) to fight the Covid-19 epidemic. Depending on the situation observed, it is empowered to issue a letter of observation, a formal notice, a report, or even to prosecute the company in criminal proceedings.

Act faster

Indeed, if teleworking is not, strictly speaking, a legal obligation, the company which avoids it under the current conditions, namely a pandemic, can be reproached for failing in the obligation of protection of the health and safety of its employees. Here again, without giving any figure on the number of checks and prosecutions, the ministry ensures that “95% of formal notices are followed up”.

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Why, under these conditions, create new sanctions which will materialize in the form of fines? The current procedure has the disadvantage of being long and cumbersome, and fines will make it possible to act more ” fast “, explains the ministry, relayed on this point by the trade unions. “The idea is above all to have a more effective weapon” against companies that deviate from the health protocol, underlines for example Baptiste Talbot, who represented the CGT at the meeting on Tuesday. The establishment of this device will nevertheless require a certain delay since it should be the subject of an amendment to the bill transforming the health pass into a vaccination pass, the examination of which will begin next week. It will therefore not be applicable at best before “Mid or end of January”, we admit to the Ministry of Labor.

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Compulsory teleworking: questions around the sanctions hovering over “recalcitrant” companies