Co-funded by the European Union

French social partners sign a new interprofessional agreement on telework

  • On 26 November 2020, French social partners concluded a national interprofessional agreement on telework, that provides a framework clarifying the rules and modalities of remote working.
  • The text encourages social dialogue at the company and sectoral levels.

Prior to this agreement, telework was regulated by the national interprofessional agreement of 2005 and articles L1222-9 and following of the Labour Code, as amended by Ordinance No. 2017-1387. The agreement was signed by three employers’ organisations, MEDEF, the CPME and U2P and by almost all trade unions (CFDT, FO, CFE CGC, CFTC) except for CGT.

At first focussed on the preparation of a “diagnostic” to understand the scope and boundaries of telework both in normal and crisis situation, throughout the negotiations the social partners achieved to finalise a “tool to help social dialogue and support to negotiate” to effectively implement telework.

The final text encourages negotiations at the company level and in professional branches, in line with the social and economic situation of the company, to determine:

  • the equipment and tools to be used when working remotely;
  • the working time including the right to disconnect; and workload assessment;
  • telework related expenses;
  • health and safety rules when working remotely;
  • the access to training.

It finally contains references to the training of managers to adapt to telework practices and the way in which managerial control can be conducted.

The agreement distinguishes also between telework and remote working in time of crisis. In this scenario, it contains measures to ensure business continuity, social dialogue and continuous exchange of information with employees, plus putting at the employees’ disposal the necessary work equipment.

From an employers’ perspective, the most relevant elements introduced by the agreement are:

  • remote working is voluntary both for the employer and the employee (unless there are exceptional circumstances), but it remains in the employers control the determination of the activities and tasks that can be “teleworked”;
  • the employment contract does no longer need to be amended to include telework, but it is sufficient to have an agreement between the employee and the employer “by any means”;
  • health and safety when working teleworking takes into account the limited employer’s control on the work environment of the employee;
  • social dialogue processes become more flexible and adapted to a “telework” modus operandi, within the limits of the legal framework;
  • In case of exceptional circumstances, employees’ personal devices can be used to work;

The agreement maintains the various means of telework implementation, namely collective agreements, or, failing that, unilateral charters, but also mutual bilateral agreements, and the unilateral employer’s decision in the event of exceptional circumstances introduced by the 2017 ordinance in the Labour Code.

I am delighted that the social partners have agreed on the means to support the development of teleworking. There were strong expectations on the side of the employees. We needed a framework to allow companies to deploy telework in a balanced way. It's done! This agreement, once signed, will give pride of place to social dialogue, which is crucial when we see the diversity of work situations. Every company will now be able to use this framework to set up teleworking in a sustainable manner” declared Élisabeth Borne, Minister of Labour, Employment and Integration.

The Movement of Entreprises of France (MEDEF) is quite satisfied with the outcome as commented by Hubert Mongon (General Delegate of employers’ association for the metallurgic sector, Union des Industries et Métiers de la Métallurgie – UIMM), who negotiated the agreement. He said:  "We are very happy to positively end this negotiation, which we wanted to be speedy and efficient to meet companies and citizens’ expectations in a context identified prior to the new lockdown, a sensitive context grounded in the evolution of the way in which society and the country work". He added “the aim is to deal with remote working during periods of crisis, but also to facilitate the transformations in the organisation of work”.