How Should Employers In France Respond To The Coronavirus Outbreak?

Author:Mr Matthieu Babin
Profession:Ius Laboris

The first step for employers is to obtain information on the risks in the light of the currently available knowledge, so that any action they take can be tailored to the levels of risk specific to the situations actually encountered.

Where can employers get information?

By calling the freephone number: 0800 130 000; On the Ministry of Health website. Note: At the time of writing, the coronavirus outbreak has not reached the 'pandemic' stage. In anticipation, however, it is advisable to consult the action plans already in place for influenza A/H1N1:

the national plan for the prevention and control of the influenza pandemic (updated in 2011); and Direction Générale du Travail (DGT) circulars of 18 December 2007 and 3 July 2009. At the present stage of the coronavirus epidemic, several scenarios can be envisaged, described below.

Scenario 1: An employee returns from a region considered to be a source of infection (Wuhan city in China)

The employee must comply with the quarantine measures put in place by the public authorities. A decree dated 31 January 2020 allows him or her to be paid a daily allowances on the advice of a Regional Health Agency (ARS) doctor (decree n°2020-73). The employer must of course consider the employee's absence as legitimate, and if necessary consider whether additional compensation should be paid, depending on the provisions in force in the organisation. If the employee is proved not to be infected, there is nothing to prevent him or her from returning to work.

Scenario 2: An employee returns from another part of Asia (such as China, Hong Kong, or Macao)

Travellers returning from these areas are subject to a specific reception procedure since 25 January at Paris Charles de Gaulle and Saint-Denis de la Réunion airports. The public authorities recommend that for 14 days (the incubation period), the individual remains vigilant with regard to potential symptoms. From the employer's point of view, depending on the function the employee performs and in particular the degree of contact with third parties or the public, certain measures can be envisaged, such as remote working, taking leave or rest days or introducing an obligation to wear masks (provided free of charge by the organisation), among others.

Scenario 3: An employee has to go to China

At the time of writing the French Government has not prohibited visits to China but advises against them, 'unless there is a compelling reason'. Any decision to organise a...

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