return to normal life in companies with the end of the health protocol?

Elisabeth Borne, the Minister of Labor announces the return of “normal rules in business” from Monday 14 March.

Towards a return to normal in companies? The health protocol will indeed be canceled from Monday 14 March, the date on which Wearing a face mask is no longer mandatory. in closed places, the Minister of Labor, Elisabeth Borne, announced on LCI on Tuesday.

“The health protocol in business will disappear from next Monday” and “we will resume normal rules in business”, the minister said, indicating that we must “of course continue to apply hygiene rules”, such as washing hands, cleaning surfaces and ventilating. the property.

“The rules of distance will disappear”, as well as those of collective catering, she says.

From this date on, it is the companies and they alone who determine their strategies (or not) on various practical issues such as wearing a mask, meetings, the canteen or even telecommuting. A reference work should replace the protocol, it has been sent to the social partners.

“This is very good news,” enthuses BFM Business Benoît Serre, Vice President of ANDRH, the national association of HRDs. “We are back in normal mode, we are finding freedom in companies in terms of operational rules”.

“Here is the end of the tunnel,” the Union of Local Businesses (U2P), which unites artisans, small traders and the liberal professions, rejoiced on Twitter.

“It’s back to normal,” confirms Marion Kahn Guerra for BFM Business, a lawyer specializing in employment law for the Desfils office. “In reality, this has always been the case because the health protocol had no binding and normative value.”

• Wear a mask

Wearing a face mask will no longer be mandatory indoors, regardless of the size of the company and this will be a relief for many employees. Nevertheless, companies may decide to enforce it in certain cases, through social dialogue.

It is clear that “the employer remains responsible for health and safety at work”, emphasizes AFP Déborah David, social law lawyer at De Gaulle Fleurance. So “if he believes that there is a specific risk due to, for example, the activity, he can impose the wearing of a mask”.

This can be done “in a memorandum to the internal regulations” and for a limited period or through consultation with the staff representations, she says.

The possible obligation to wear a mask “should be the subject of information / consultation of the CSE and its security committee. It must be motivated by circumstances that justify it, as it is an attack on individual freedoms. It is on a case-by-case basis that must be justified”, says Marion Kahn Guerra richly.

Likewise, an employee who wants to keep it cannot be forced to withdraw it.

“The removal of the obligation to wear a mask does not mean that we cannot authorize it,” Benoît Serre summarizes.

“In the current circumstances in which the virus continues to circulate, employees who want to can continue to wear a mask, without the employer being able to oppose it,” the guide indicates. “We don’t see how the employer could penalize an employee who refuses to take off a mask because it has no impact on the smooth running of companies or the employee’s functions,” said Marion Kahn Guerra.

It can also be removed in the “moments of sociability” that were re-authorized in the latest version of the protocol.

• Teleworking

The end of the health protocol does not change much in the field of telecommuting, as the latest versions (February 16 and 28) introduced not a requirement but a recommendation. Teleworking is therefore arranged entirely in mutual consultation between employees and management by means of agreements.

The absence of an agreement does not mean that it will be impossible to apply a dose of telecommuting from March 14.

“We are moving from forced telecommuting to organized telecommuting. It is now in place so that it will be regulated over time and become a viable alternative,” Benoît Serre underlines.

Indeed, it is difficult for companies to solve the demand today, given the pressure of the employees. According to a recent survey in France for Zoom, 69% say it’s important that they can choose to work in the office, remotely or hybrid. This figure rises to 85% for those currently doing some or all of their work remotely.

“The end of the health protocol does not mean the end of telecommuting. Either there is a charter, a collective agreement or an individual agreement between the employer and the employee based on double volunteering. It is clear that companies have changed their minds on the matter , frankly, some who were hesitant go there,” adds Marion Kahn-Guerra.

• Meetings and traffic

In the latest version of the occupational health protocol, it was again possible to organize physical meetings provided that barrier gestures were respected. The end of the protocol recognizes this return to physical encounters of more than 12 people in the same room, without mask.

With regard to the traffic rules in the company, “it is every employer who can decide to adapt or cancel the existing protocol. Still, I recommend to be careful and not to cancel everything at once,” emphasizes Marion Kahn -Guerra.

• Canteens

All rules that apply to collective catering (meter, wearing a mask, keeping a distance) will also disappear.

• Vulnerable people

This population, if it meets certain criteria, benefits from partial activity or special leave (ASA). The law has set an application deadline that runs until July 31. “A decree will then have to be published first to put an end to it,” estimates the lawyer.

• Covid sponsor

Still according to the benchmark guide sent to the social partners, Covid-19 sponsor continues its missions. In small companies, he can be the manager. He ensures the implementation of the defined measures and the information of the employees”, we can read.

Olivier Chicheportiche Journalist BFM Business