Covid-19 – Company Health And Safety Protocol, Medical Leave, Financial Aid For Hiring, Inflation Allowance

Following from our previous note on economic measures, please find below information on the following health and social measures:

1.Update on health vigilance measures

2.Update of the health and safety protocol applicable in companies

3. Extension of the derogatory medical leave scheme

4. Financial aid for the recruitment of jobseekers under professionalization contracts

5. Extension of the doubling of the ceiling of luncheon vouchers

6. Details on the inflation allowance

1.Update On Health Vigilance Measures

The law n° 2021-1465 of November 10, 2021 on various health vigilance measures modified several provisions for managing the Covid-19 epidemic and extended them until July 31, 2022:

– The provisional legislative regime of sanitary emergency ;

– The regime for exiting the crisis and the health pass;

– The derogation provisions for supplementary employer’s allowances;

– The increased rate of partial activity compensation for vulnerable companies, vulnerable employees and those looking after their child(ren).

These provisions were validated by a decision of the Constitutional Council n°2021-828 of November 9, 2021.


2. Update Of The Company Health And Safety Protocol Applicable In Companies

The company health and safety protocol was updated by the Ministry of Labour on November 29, 2021, following the evolution of the health situation.

We inform you that the General Labour Department indicated in an internal instruction dated November 23, 2021 that the Labour Inspection services will be particularly mobilised to ensure the application of the company health and safety protocol and to reinforce their information and support actions. We therefore anticipate that there might be increased controls in the coming weeks. Indeed, on December 7, 2021, the Minister of Labour announced that she wanted to reach a target of 5,000 companies inspected per month.

Finally, the Prime Minister and the Minister for Solidarity and Health particularly insisted on the following measures during a press conference on December 6, 2021:

– Postponement of festive events in companies (ceremonies, seminars and farewell parties) ;

– Recommendation to adopt two to three days of teleworking per week (it is not excluded that this recommendation will become compulsory at a later date).

These additions will in principle be included in a new version of the health and safety protocol which should be updated soon. We will send it to you later.

You will find below a summary of the main contributions of the health and safety protocol in its updated version of November 29, 2021.

– Ventilation and airing of closed spaces

The health protocol recommends regular ventilation of closed rooms, whether mechanical or natural, and advises a minimum of five minutes of ventilation every hour.

Measurement of carbon dioxide in the air is also recommended to ensure good air circulation. This measurement of CO2 should be carried out at significant traffic areas and during busy periods.

– Wearing a mask

The wearing of a mask is once again made compulsory for all persons, especially employees in establishments, places, services and events that require the presentation of a health pass.

Similarly, the wearing of masks is once again made systematic in enclosed and shared areas in companies.

– Company catering

The sheet on company catering has been updated because of the increased risk that these areas represent, as the mask cannot be worn continuously.

Measures regarding the distancing of guests, in queues and the services’ shifts are imposed and reinforced.

– Physical distancing

The physical distance is extended to two metres in cases where the mask cannot be worn. This includes outdoor areas and company restaurants.

– Social moments

Social events where employees meet face-to-face in the workplace are not recommended.

If they still take place, social events should be held in strict compliance with the shielding measures (wearing of the mask, ventilation measures, distance of two metres when the mask is removed).


3. Extension Of The Derogatory Medical Leave Scheme

The system of derogatory medical leave created by the decree no. 2021-13 of January 8, 2021 is extended until December 31, 2021 by the decree no. 2021-1412 of October 29, 2021.

As a reminder, this regime allows for an increase in the number of cases in which employees can benefit from medical leave in connection with Covid-19.

Inability to work, whether permanent or temporary, concerns situations in which a person can no longer work, either partially or totally (e.g. for parents of a Covid-19 positive child who cannot be placed on partial activity, people infected by Covid, etc.). In these cases, a declaration must be filed online.

This extended scheme allows employees who are unable to work to benefit from daily Social Security allowances and the employer’s supplement, without any conditions or application of the waiting period.

The website has a list of situations that may give rise to such a leave of work (e.g. employees in contact cases).


4. Financial Aid For Hiring Jobseekers Under Professionalization Contracts

Following the announcements of the Prime Minister and the Minister of Labour, an exceptional bonus of up to 8,000 euros has been introduced for employers who hire long-term unemployed people on professionalization contracts.

This financial aid is paid for the first year of the contract.

According to decree no. 2021-1404 of October 29, 2021, to be eligible for this aid, the employer must recruit a long-term unemployed person on a professionalization contract preparing for :

– A degree or professional qualification equivalent to at most 5 years after a bachelor’s degree level ; or

– A branch or inter-branch professional qualification certificate.

Similarly, this bonus benefits those hired under experimental professionalization contracts concluded with a view to acquiring skills defined by the employer and the Opco.

These professionalization contracts must:

– Have been concluded between November 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022;

– Concern long-term unemployed people aged at least 30.

The jobseekers concerned:

– Are required to perform positive acts of job search; and

– Have been registered for at least 12 months during the last 15 months and have not been in employment or have been in employment for a maximum of 78 hours per month.

The payment of this recruitment bonus is financed on behalf of the State by Pôle Emploi and is granted to the employer in the first month following the notification of award and then every three months:

– In expectation of the the data mentioned in the nominative social declaration; or

– If not, after receiving the pay slips of the employee concerned.

In order to benefit from this financial aid, the professionalization contract must be filed by the Opco with the Minister responsible for professional training.


5. Extension Of The Doubling Of The Ceiling Of Luncheon Vouchers

A decree n°2021-1368 of October 20, 2021 extended the doubling of the maximum ceiling for the use of luncheon vouchers until February 28, 2022. This ceiling had been raised from 19 euros to 38 euros per day following an announcement by the Ministry of the Economy.

Similarly, this doubling of the ceiling for restaurant vouchers has also been extended to weekends and public holidays in restaurants, hotel-restaurants and similar establishments.


6. Details On The Inflation Allowance

On December 2, 2022, the Official Bulletin of the Social Security published a Q&A on the conditions and modalities of payment of this allowance which completes the Government’s Q&A.

Clarifications are provided concerning:

Age requirement : persons who are at least 16 years old on 31 October 2021 are eligible;

– The requirements of residency and the requirements of activity and period of employment for eligible persons (including trainees);

This allowance is automatically paid, subject to exceptions, by the employer to employees who meet the eligibility conditions.

Finally, the amount, the date of payment and the procedures for declaring and reimbursing the allowance paid by employers are also specified.