COVID-19 – Company Health And Safety Protocol, Derogatory Work Stoppage, Partial Activity, Fixed Costs

 

Following on from our previous notes, please find below information on the following topics:

 

Update of the health and safety protocol applicable in companies

New rules for isolation and testing of positive cases/close contacts

Extension of derogatory work stoppage schemes

Increase in the minimum hourly rate of the partial activity allowance

Extension of aid for the recruitment of jobseekers under professionalization contracts

Fixed costs scheme in January 2022

Extension of the ad hoc aid scheme of repayable advances and subsidised loans

1.Update of The Health and Safety Protocol Applicable in Companies

The company health protocol was updated by the Ministry of Labour on January 3rd, 2022, to take into account the evolution of the health situation.

The new measures include :

-The obligation to set up a minimum number of three days of teleworking per week, which can be increased to four days if possible, for positions that allow it and for a period of three weeks;

-Strict compliance with barrier measures, in particular the wearing of masks in enclosed and shared areas;

-The obligation to respect ventilation measures (mechanical or natural) in premises with a recommendation of at least 10 minutes every hour and the facilitation of CO2 measurement in case of difficulty in guaranteeing air quality and considering the need to ventilate or limit the occupation of premises;

-The rules of distancing of at least 1 metre from the mask and 2 metres when the mask cannot be worn (e.g. collective catering).

In this respect, the Q&A on telework was updated on January 5th, 2022.

Finally, the Ministry of Labour also published a Q&A in December 2021 which specifies the role of the health and safety protocol applicable in companies as well as the reinforced obligations of information and training on the health situation.

 

2.New Rules for Isolation and Testing of Positive Cases / Close Contacts

As from January 3rd, 2022, new isolation and testing guidelines have been implemented :

For individuals who tested positive

-For  individuals who tested positive with a complete vaccination scheme (booster carried out in accordance with the requirements of the health pass), regardless of the variant (Delta or Omicron):

Isolation is now of 7 (full) days after the date of beginning of symptoms or the date of the positive test.

However, after 5 days, the person who tested positive may be released from isolation under two conditions:

-they perform an antigenic or RT-PCR test and it is negative;

-the person has not shown clinical signs of infection for 48 hours.

If the test performed is positive or if the person does not perform a test, their isolation is maintained for 7 days. A second test is not performed at day 7.

-For individuals who tested positive with an incomplete vaccination scheme (booster not carried out) and for non-vaccinated persons:

Isolation is of 10 (full) days after the date of beginning of symptoms or the date of the positive test. However, after 7 days, the person who tested positive may be released from isolation under two conditions:

-they perform an antigenic or RT-PCR test and it is negative

-the person has not shown clinical signs of infection for 48 hours

If the test is positive or if the person does not carry out a test, isolation is maintained for 10 days.

-For close contacts

– For close contacts who have a complete vaccination scheme (booster carried out according to the requirements of the health pass):

There is no longer a quarantine, nevertheless contact cases must :

-strictly apply the barrier measures, and in particular the wearing of masks indoors and outdoors,

-limit their contacts,

-avoid all contact with people at risk of severe Covid,

-telework whenever possible.

In addition, close contacts should perform an antigenic or RT-PCR test as soon as they learn that they are a close contact, and then perform self-tests at day 2 and day 4 after the last contact with the positive person.

If the self-test is positive, the result should be confirmed by an antigenic or RT-PCR test.

If the test is positive, the person becomes a positive case and starts isolation.

-For contacts cases with an incomplete vaccination scheme and for non-vaccinated close contacts:

These persons should stay in isolation for 7 (full) days from the date of last contact.

In order to end their quarantine, these persons must perform an antigenic test or RT-PCR and have a negative result.

If the test is positive, the person becomes a positive case and starts isolation.

 

3.Extension of Derogatory Work Stoppage Schemes

The system of derogatory work stoppages created by decree no. 2021-13 of January 8, 2021 is extended by the social security financing law of 23 December 2021, until a date set by decree and at the latest until December 31, 2022.

As a reminder, this extended scheme allows employees who find themselves unable to work to benefit from daily Social Security allowances and the employer’s supplement, without any condition and without application of the waiting period.

This scheme is intended in particular for employees who are in a derogatory work stoppage to look after their children. It is only available during the school year and applies to parents who are unable to telework and who have children under 16 years of age or children with disabilities who must be isolated.

The ameli.fr website has a list of situations that may give rise to such work stoppage (e.g. employees who are close contacts).

 

4.Increase in The Minimum Hourly Rate of The Partial Activity Allowance

The partial activity regime as defined by decree n°2020-810 of June 29, 2020 has been completed by decree n°2021-1878 of December 29, 2021 which modifies the minimum hourly rate of the partial activity allowance as well as by decrees n°2921-1816 and n°2021-1817 of December 27, 2021.

To date, and subject to future modifications, the rates are determined as follows :

-Concerning the non-protected sectors

 

As a reminder, the hourly rate of the allowance paid to these companies is 36% of the previous gross remuneration capped at 36% of 4.5 SMIC per hour. As of January 1st, 2022, the hourly floor has been raised from 7.47 to 7.53 euros due to the increase in the SMIC.

-Concerning the protected and related sectors of annexes 1 and 2

As a reminder, the hourly rate of the allowance paid to these companies was set at 70% of the previous gross remuneration capped at 70% of 4.5 SMIC for hours lost up to and including December 2021. It now concerns companies that suffer a loss of turnover of at least 65%.

The hourly floor of 8.30 euros in force until 31 December 2021 has been raised to 8.37 euros from January 2021. These employers do not have to pay any remaining costs.

In addition, employers of employees who are unable to continue working, for example in case they have to look up for their Covid-positive or close contact children, are also concerned by these measures.

These provisions will no longer apply to companies in the protected and related sectors as from February 1st, 2022 but will continue to apply to employers of employees who are unable to continue working.

For all practical purposes, you will find on the website of the Ministry of Labour an explanatory sheet on the partial activity scheme detailing these different cases, summarised in the tables below:

 

5.Extension of Aid for Hiring Jobseekers on Professionalisation Contracts

The exceptional bonus of a maximum of 8,000 euros introduced by decree no. 2021-1404 of 29 October 2021 for employers who hire long-term unemployed persons on professionalization contracts is extended for contracts concluded between January 1st, 2022 and December 31, 2022.

For more information on this aid, we invite you to refer to the newsletter of 8 December 2021 attached to this note.

 

6.Fixed Costs Scheme in January 2022

The sectors of activity eligible for the fixed cost scheme for the months of December 2021 and January 2022 are extended to include all sectors on lists S1 and S1bis, provided that these companies lose more than 50% of their turnover compared to the same month in 2019.

A decree providing further details on this subject is due to be published shortly.

 

7.Extension of The Ad Hoc Aid Scheme of Repayable Advances and Subsidised Loans

By a decree n° 2021-1915 of December 30, 2021, the system of repayable advances and subsidised loans by the BPI for small to medium companies and medium-sized companies affected by the health crisis was extended until 30 June 2022.

As a reminder, this scheme, aimed at completing the State-guaranteed loan, is intended for companies meeting the following criteria:

-To have obtained a State-guaranteed loan insufficient to finance their operation;

-To justify real prospects for recovery of the business;

-Not to be subject to collective insolvency proceedings.

The details and conditions of eligibility are set out in the table below:

https://www.economie.gouv.fr/files/files/directions_services/covid19-soutien-entreprises/Fiche-avances-remboursables-pret-taux-bonifie.pdf

The companies concerned can submit their applications to the Comités départementaux d’examen des problèmes de financement des entreprises

Following the government’s announcements, the repayable advance scheme can now be combined with a State-guaranteed loan or a subsidised loan. Further details will be provided by decree.