Labour Inspectorate, Partial Activity, Agefiph’s Covid Aid, “Fixed Costs Consolidation” Aid

 

To follow up on our previous newsletters, please find below information on the following topics:

  1. Labour Inspectorate controls
  2. Increase in the minimum hourly rate of the partial activity allowance
  3. Extension of Agefiph’s Covid aid for people with disabilities
  4. Postponement of medical examinations
  5. Adjustment of the configuration of catering premises
  6. “Consolidation fixed costs” aid
  7. New aid for the payment of social contributions

 

1.Labour Inspectorate Controls

As a reminder, the law n° 2022-46 of January 22, 2022 introduces the vaccination pass and provides for a fine until July 31, 2022 at the latest against employers who have not taken measures to protect their employees against Covid-19 after a formal notice from the “Direction régionale de l’économie, de l’emploi, du travail et des solidarités” (DREETS).

In line with this, a circular from the General Labour Directorate dated January 24, 2022 completes the previous instruction of January 19, 2022 by providing for a strengthening of controls by the administration.

In the event of non-compliance with employee protection measures, the fine is set at 500 euros per employee and capped at a total of 50,000 euros. However, it will only be imposed after the employer refuses to comply with the formal notice issued by the DREETS “based on a dangerous situation resulting from a risk of exposure to SARS-Cov-2 due to the employer’s failure to comply with its obligations in terms of risk prevention”.

It should be noted that these possibilities of formal notice and sanctions are not strictly limited to hazardous situations resulting from the employer’s failure to comply with the implementation of telework. They cover all the obligations provided for by the general principles of prevention in articles L.4121-1 to L.4121-5 and L.4522-1 of the Labor Code and set out in the national protocol in companies

The fine can only be decided until a date fixed by decree and, at the latest, until July 31, 2022.

 

2.Increase in the Minimum Hourly Rate of the Partial Activity Allowance

The partial activity regime as defined by decree no. 2020-810 of June 29, 2020 was supplemented by two decrees no. 2022-77 and no. 2022-78 of January 28, 2022 to extend until February 28, 2022 the increased rates that were initially to be applicable until February 1st, 2022.

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 which continues until February 28, 2022 is 36% of the previous gross remuneration capped at 36% of 4.5 SMIC per hour. Since 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 which continues to be paid to these companies until February 28, 2022 is set at 70% of the previous gross remuneration capped at 70% of 4.5 SMIC for hours lost up to and including February 28, 2022.

It now concerns companies that suffer a loss of turnover of at least 65%:

  • In relation to the turnover recorded for the same month in 2020 and 2019: or
  • In relation to the monthly turnover achieved in 2019; or
  • For companies created after June 30, 2020, in relation to the average monthly turnover achieved between the date of creation of the company and June 30, 2021.

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

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 or if they are vulnerable to Covid-19, are also concerned by these measures.

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

For more information, the Q&A on partial activity has been updated on February 4, 2022 taking into account the progressive lifting of restrictions and partial activity.

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:

 

 

3.Extension of Agefiph’s Covid Aid for People with Disabilities

The exceptional aid set up by Agefiph for people with disabilities seeking employment, employees or trainees, as well as their employers, to respond to the health crisis caused by Covid-19 has been extended until February 28, 2022.

These measures include the exceptional aid for teleworking, the reimbursement of business travel fees and the exceptional aid for Covid-19 risk prevention equipment.

 

4.Postponement of Medical Examinations

The article 10 of law no. 2022-46 of January 22, 2022 reinforcing the tools for managing the health crisis provides that certain medical examinations may be postponed between December 15, 2021 and July 31, 2022 at the latest.

The visits concerned are:

  • The information and prevention visit on hiring and its renewal, including for temporary and fixed-term employees;
  • The medical examination for fitness on hiring and the periodic medical examination, including for temporary employees and employees on fixed-term contracts;
  • The medical examination before retirement for employees exposed to risk factors.

 

5.Adjustment of the Configuration of Catering Premises

The decree no. 2022-62 of January 25, 2022 provides for the adjustment of catering conditions when physical distancing cannot be respected due to the configuration of the catering premises.

If the company has :

  • More than 50 employees, one or more other premises without physical facilities necessary for collective catering may be used. This location may be within the work premises provided that the premises are not used for an activity involving the use or storage of hazardous substances; or
  • Less than 50 employees, one or more other premises may be provided to enable collective catering to be carried out under good health and safety conditions. If the activity of the premises does not involve the use or storage of hazardous substances, then a declaration to the Labour Inspectorate is not required.

These provisions are applicable until April 30, 2022 but could be extended by decree until July 31, 2022.

6.“Fixed costs consolidation” aid

A decree no. 2022-111 of February 2, 2022 implements a new aid called “fixed costs consolidation“.

Its aims at compensating for the uncovered fixed costs of companies whose activity is particularly affected by the Covid-19 epidemic.

The companies eligible for this aid are those created before January 1, 2019 and meeting the following conditions for the eligible period from December 1, 2021 to January 31, 2022:

  • Carry out their main activity in sectors S1 and S1 bis;
  • To have a negative gross operating surplus for fixed consolidation costs during the eligible month;
  • To have suffered a loss of turnover of at least 50% during the eligible month (this loss is defined as the difference between the loss of turnover during the month in question and the turnover for the same month in 2019).

This aid, capped at 12 million euros, (including the “fixed costs” and “rebound fixed costs” aid already received, if applicable) takes the form of a subsidy, the amount of which is equal to the sum, for each eligible month, of 70% of the mathematical opposite of the gross operating surplus fixed costs consolidation recorded for the eligible month or months.

By way of derogation, this grant is increased to 90% of the gross operating surplus fixed consolidation costs for small-sized enterprises.

For the calculation of the gross operating surplus fixed consolidation costs, the aid is charged to the month for which it was applied for.

The application for the eligible period between December 1, 2021 and January 31, 2022 shall be submitted by electronic means on the impots.gouv.fr website between February 3, 2022 and March 31, 2022.

If applicable, applications must be made within 45 days of receiving the other aid available for each eligible month, in particular the reinforcement aid and the solidarity fund for December 2021.

Details of this aid are also available here.

7.New Aid for the Payment of Social Contributions

Following announcements of the Prime Minister, decree n°2022-170 of 11 February 2022 has implemented two new aids for the payment of social contributions for companies heavily affected by the health crisis:

  • Companies in sectors S1 and S1 bis with fewer than 250 employees will be eligible for exceptional aid for the payment of social security contributions if they have recorded a decrease of 30% to 65% of their turnover in December and January 2022, up to a maximum of 20% of the gross wage bill.
  • Companies in sectors S1 and S1 bis with fewer than 250 employees that lost at least 65% of their turnover will also be eligible for this aid for the payment of employee contributions as well as a total exemption from employer contributions.

The exemption and the payment aid can be applied to all employees regardless of the amount of their remuneration, but only for the part below 4.5 times the minimum wage.

The loss of turnover is assessed in relation to the turnover of the same month of one of the two previous years, the average monthly turnover of 2019 or 2020 or, for companies created in 2021, in relation to the average monthly turnover achieved between the date of creation of the company and 31 August 2021.