Progressive decontainment: the new company health protocol
An umpteenth new version of the company health protocol was made public on Tuesday 18 May 2021. It paves the way for a gradual reopening of the company, while maintaining the generalized telework scheme for several more weeks.
For the time being, the protective measures for employees are broadly unchanged. Employers are encouraged to maintain telework for all jobs that can be held remotely, if possible five days out of five, with the possibility retained for the employee, at his or her request, to go to his or her job site one day a week.
If this is not feasible, employers are asked to ensure that hygiene and physical distance measures are respected. These measures remain unchanged, with the exception of an invitation to regularly ensure that the premises are aerated: "Controlling ventilation is an essential measure for preventing situations where there is a risk of aerosolisation of Sars-CoV-2", the new protocol states.
Similarly, masks must be worn at all times in enclosed public areas, when people are gathered together outdoors and in all places that have the status of establishments open to the public. Generally speaking, employers are still required to provide their employees with any personal protective equipment necessary for their protection (mask, visor, gloves).
An incentive to facilitate employee screening and vaccination
Employers are encouraged to offer their employees screening tests, carried out at the company's expense, in strict compliance with medical secrecy: the results may not be communicated to the employer or his employees.
In any case, the employer may not take compulsory temperature readings on each employee or visitor, if the results are then recorded, nor may he use an automated temperature recording process.
Finally, companies are also invited to provide information to their employees on how to access the vaccination, which is still based on the principles of voluntariness and medical confidentiality. There is no question of forcing employees to be vaccinated. Although there is no automatic leave of absence for employees to be vaccinated, employers are encouraged to make it easier for them to do so.
How to organise the return to work and to the company premises?
Many industries (tourism, culture, catering) were able to resume their activity on Wednesday 19 May 2021 and had to reopen their premises that had been closed for many months.
The health protocol therefore refers to a guide also published by the Ministry of Labour on Tuesday 18 May 2021, which aims to provide business leaders with benchmarks to facilitate a recovery under good conditions. Under the terms of this guide, companies are advised to prepare for the takeover of the company's activity, in particular by involving staff representatives and management staff, to organise the takeover of employees, in particular by taking into account the employees' personal situations, to present the new organisation put in place to the employees, to monitor and readjust the organisation if necessary, and to adapt the objectives taking into account the company's resources.
Whether it is for the implementation of individual and collective protection measures for employees or for the organisation of the resumption of activity, companies must involve their staff representatives by keeping them informed. They are invited to set up a Covid-19 representative who will ensure that the measures defined are properly implemented and that employees are informed.
Increased employee safety and medical confidentiality continue to be the key words in the company's management of the health crisis. If the State has arrogated to itself the right to monitor and track citizens on a permanent basis with the health pass, fortunately for the moment it does not seem to wish to extend this right to the company. But for how long?