Update as of March 26: Partial Activity Scheme and Emergency Measures to Deal with the COVID-19

At a time when many companies are experiencing a drop in activity related to the COVID-19 Coronavirus in particular due to the recent minimum one-month administrative closure of most stores and activities and the confinement, many companies are contemplating partial activity.

New - A Decree dated March 25, 2020, regarding partial activity, has modified certain conditions.

The Ministry of Labour, while insisting that work from home is the preferred solution when the employee's position allows it, proposed examples of exceptional circumstances where partial activity would be possible in the context of the Coronavirus epidemic: administrative closure of an establishment, prohibition of public demonstrations following an administrative decision, massive absence of employees who are essential to the company's activity, temporary interruption of non-essential activities, suspension of public transport by administrative decision and decrease in activity linked to the epidemic.

New - Partial activity can now also be requested by companies in the event it is impossible to implement the necessary preventive measures for the protection of their employees' health.

The purpose of this scheme is to avoid dismissals and it is strongly recommended that companies use temporary partial activity before commencing any redundancy process.

New - This scheme can be implemented for a period of up to twelve months.

Partial activity can take two different forms:

  • a reduction of the employees' working time below the legal weekly working time;
  • a temporary closure of all or part of the establishment.

New - Employees under a working time scheme set in days "forfait-jours" or hours "forfait-heures" can now benefit from partial activity in the event of a reduction in working time and in the event of total closure of the establishment.

In case of implementation of temporary activity ("activité partielle"), employees may benefit from an allowance paid by the employer equal to at least 70% of their previous hourly gross remuneration.

To accompany the payment of the allowance, the employer can benefit from a partial activity allocation co-financed by the State and UNEDIC unemployment authorities which -

New - cannot be less than EUR 8.04 per hour (except for employees on an apprenticeship or professionalization contract) and is capped at 70% of the previous gross pay (as used to calculate paid vacation days) up to a maximum of 4.5 times the minimum wage.

The government has provided for a calculation tool in order to estimate the amount of the allowance that employers can obtain. In addition, the Minister of Labour has specified that the employer may also decide to implement State-funded training measures (FNE Formation) in order to obtain financial assistance of up to 70% of employee training costs.

From a practical standpoint, implementation of partial activity requires prior information and consultation of the Social and Economic Committee and administrative authorization.

New - The Social and Economic Committee may however be consulted and render its opinion after the request for partial activity has been submitted and the minutes from the meeting can be transmitted within a maximum period of two months as from the request date.

Applications to the government scheme must be submitted on the dedicated portal ( preferably prior to putting employees on partial activity.

New - The employer has a period of thirty days from the placement of employees on partial activity to send the request. Applications should be processed urgently within 48 hours of their receipt. If no response is received within this time limit the request is deemed accepted.

New - For information (Executive Order dated March 25, 2020): No forcing employees to take vacation is permitted (with the exception of the period/timing the employer is permitted to impose vacation) unless there is company agreement or branch agreement in place in which case it is limited to 6 days. Up to 10 RTT days can be imposed without a company or branch agreement although we would nonetheless recommend imposing a maximum of five to six days.

Find here our practical recommendations for fighting the Coronavirus epidemic in France.

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