FAQ COVID-19 Our answers to your questions

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

 

 

1. How can companies keep doing business during COVID-19?

 

From May 11th, 2020 onwards, a progressive easing of lockdown restrictions comes into force throughout metropolitan France and in the French overseas territories.

Personal and professional travels have been relaxed and are no longer subject to bearing a special certificate, except for travels of more than 100 km from home, which remain limited to “only compelling professional or family motives”.

To download the travel authorization form (standing certification from the employer):

https://www.interieur.gouv.fr/Actualites/L-actu-du-Ministere/Attestation-de-deplacement-derogatoire-et-justificatif-de-deplacement-professionnel

This easing of lockdown restrictions applies to all companies, including those that were on lockdown:

  • Businesses will thus be able to reopen on May 11, while complying with social distancing rules
  • Cafés, bars, restaurants, cinemas and theatres, museums and concert halls shall remain closed for precautionary measures. The Government plans to reassess their situation by the end of May, to determine if there is any chance for them to reopen by June.

The strategy on gradually lifting restrictions set up by the Government provides support measures for companies so that the resumption of activity allows for the safety and health of employees.

 A national Protocol, published by the Ministry of Labor, sets forth measures to help and support companies and associations, regardless of their size, activity and geographical location, to resume their activity while ensuring the protection of their employees’ health in accordance with a set of universal rules.

For more information, please visit: https://travail-emploi.gouv.fr/actualites/l-actualite-du-ministere/article/coronavirus-questions-reponses-pour-les-entreprises-et-les-salaries

https://www.gouvernement.fr/info-coronavirus#partie7n5

https://code.travail.gouv.fr/dossiers/ministere-du-travail-notre-dossier-sur-le-coronavirus

https://travail-emploi.gouv.fr/actualites/presse/communiques-de-presse/article/protocole-national-de-deconfinement-pour-les-entreprises-pour-assurer-la

 

2. How can I ensure my employees remain healthy and safe and keep operations running?

 

The easing of lockdown restrictions implemented in each company from May 11th, onwards should lead employers to implement adequate preventive measures to ensure the health and safety of employees.

This is in the best interest of both employees and companies, as the presence of employees on-site will largely depend on their faith in the company’s ability to address their concerns and protect them against any virus-related risk.

The Protocol published by the Ministry of Labour specifies that the easing of lockdown restrictions implemented in each company and establishment must lead, in order of priority, to:

– Avoid the risks of exposure to the virus;

– Assess the risks that cannot be avoided;

– Give priority to collective protection measures over individual protection measures.

The definition and implementation of all these measures require a prior evaluation, job by job by the employer, to ensure their practicability and their effectiveness ensure the protection of employees against the spread of the virus.

  • Teleworking must remain wherever possible and is to be favoured for jobs that make it possible at least until June 2. The occasional or periodic physical presence of teleworkers on-site, when it is necessary, must be organised as to be spread out to limit the number of employees present at the company at the same time.

 How?

In a health crisis situation, the agreement of the employee is not necessary, and no formalism is required. A simple information of the employees by the employer is sufficient.

Vulnerable employees or employees no available childcare solution are either teleworking or placed on short-time working.

When employees’ attendance is required, employers shall organize work in sequences and setup flexible hours in order to limit the risk of overcrowding and respect the social distancing rules.

In addition, employers shall provide for all rules related to the maximum number of persons allowed in an open space at once (gauge) and to flow management within the company.

Only when these actions are not enough to ensure the protection of employees’ health and safety, they shall be completed, as a last resort, by individual protection measures like the use of mask.

All business travel in France must be limited to the strict minimum required for professional activity. As to travel beyond French borders, the closure of both the Schengen area and the external borders of the European Union implies postponement of all travel and strict compliance with the instructions issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

To promote effective takeover, the employer must ensure that one complies with the collective protection measures provided for in the Protocol and undertake the following actions:

Step 1: Conducting a health risk assessment in the workplace:

How? Employers shall assess the workplace to determine if hazards are present: this means identifying the work situations in which transmission of the COVID-19 coronavirus may occur due to the conditions involved (particularly close contact) and assessing the risk of contagion within the company.

In concrete terms, circumstances in which employees may be exposed to the virus must be reviewed and therefore employers are to implement the necessary measures to avoid or, failing that, to limit the risk as much as possible.

It is also important that employees are informed of the prevention measures to be enacted under the risk assessment reference document. The latter must be regularly updated.

This process is carried out in conjunction with the employee representative committee (CSE) and the occupational health service.

Sub-contractors working on company premises must be informed of any protective measures taken further to the adaptation of the prevention plans, which must also be updated.

Step 2: Taking adequate preventive and protective measures

In this respect, companies must take all necessary action to ensure the protection of the health of the personnel on-site, while enabling operations to continue, based on the following recommendations:

  • Physical distancing rules and barriers: handwashing at regular intervals, physical distancing (imperative health instructions), establishment of physical separation barriers and marking signs and areas on the ground;
  • Adapting premises in terms of gauge per open space: universal criterion for maximum occupancy of spaces open to the public and in the workplace set at a minimum of 4m2 per person, which should guarantee a minimum distance of 1 metre around a person;
  • People flow management: creating traffic plans to ensure minimum physical distance, in small and cramped areas or in open spaces;
  • Individual protective equipment (if the above measures cannot be implemented);
  • Screening tests: broadcasting information health recommendations and encouraging employees to request tests in the event of symptoms;
  • Establishing an ad hoc procedure for taking charge of an employee exhibiting symptoms and its close contacts in consultation with social partners;
  • Taking one’s temperature: recommended on an individual basis and possibility to allow for it in the company’s internal bylaws, which must be transmitted to the CSE and later to the work inspection;
  • Deep-cleaning surfaces.

For more information, please visit: https://travail-emploi.gouv.fr/actualites/l-actualite-du-ministere/article/coronavirus-questions-reponses-pour-les-entreprises-et-les-salaries

https://www.gouvernement.fr/info-coronavirus#partie7n5

https://code.travail.gouv.fr/dossiers/ministere-du-travail-notre-dossier-sur-le-coronavirus

https://travail-emploi.gouv.fr/IMG/pdf/covid19_obligations_employeur.pdf

https://travail-emploi.gouv.fr/actualites/presse/communiques-de-presse/article/protocole-national-de-deconfinement-pour-les-entreprises-pour-assurer-la

 

3. In preparation for the gradual easing of the lockdown restrictions and the full recovery of economic activities in France, do employers need to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to employees going to work in order to ensure their protection in the workplace?

 

In accordance with the easing of the lockdown protocol for companies, priority must be given by employers to collective protection measures. In addition to these collective protection measures, individual protection measures may be put in place, although this is not an obligation when  collective measures and compliance with social distancing measures may be sufficient to guarantee the protection of employees’ health and safety. Employers may, for example, decide to provide protective face masks to all employees present in the workplace, as well as aprons or protective visors to some employees in view of the specific nature of the activity carried out. Employers must ensure that arrangements are made for constant supply and disposal (for single-use equipment) or maintenance and cleaning (for reusable equipment).

For more information, please visit:

Ministry of labour & Employement

Coronavirus Government Info

Coronavirus Ministry of labour & Employement

Press release Ministry of Labour & Employement

 

4. How can employers procure protective face masks and other personal protective equipment for employees present or returning to the workplace following the easing of the lockdown restrictions?

 

In addition to the measures taken to increase the production of personal protective equipment at a national level, in particular protective face masks and hydroalcoholic gel, action is being taken by the Directorate General for Enterprise (Ministry for the Economy and Finance) to facilitate the supply for companies.

Where can companies buy protective face masks for their employees?

 

Protective face masks “for the general public”

 

The government also wanted to facilitate equipment for employees by creating, on March 29, 2020, under the supervision of the French National Agency for Medicines and Health Products Safety (ANSM), two new categories of face masks tailored for non-healthcare workers:

  • Individual masks for use by professionals in contact with the public, filtering at least 90% of three-micron particles. Use intended for people who may come into contact with the public in the context of their professional activities (police, gendarmes, cashiers, etc.).

 

  • Collective protective masks to protect an entire group, filtering at least 70% of three-micron particles. To be used by individuals who have occasional contact with other people in the course of their professional activities, for example in a company where a particular role or working conditions should require this. Following significant mobilization in the French textile industry, 85 prototypes created by 45 companies were validated by the French Ministry of Defence enabling a daily production estimated at 480,000 units.

These face masks can be purchased via the following online marketplaces: Marketplace “Stopcovid19”

Supported by the French Ministry for the Economy and Finance, this platform enables manufacturers and distributors of essential products and equipment (personal protective equipment such as masks, hydroalcoholic gel, aprons, etc.), as well as their service providers and subcontractors, to market their offer to health professionals, food distributors and all companies involved in the fight against COVID-19 and needing to protect their staff.

  • For more information click here
  • Marketplace « Savoir faire ensemble » : cliquez ici
  • Platform for VSEs and SMEs with fewer than 50 employees, set up by the French Post Office (La Poste) in conjunction with the Ministry for the Economy and Finance and the CCI and CMA networks: click here
  • Also for VSEs and SMEs, orders for single-use surgical masks can be placed via the click and collect system set up by Cdiscount and reserved for professionals, with the support of the state and also in connection with the CCI and CMA networks: click here

 Sanitary masks

Stocks of sanitary masks (in particular FFP2 and surgical masks) are primarily intended for healthcare professionals and health institutes. The Ministry for Solidarity and Health has updated the strategic guidelines for the distribution of health masks by the state in the context of the gradual easing of the lockdown restrictions: click here

For the purchase of these sanitary masks, international sourcing via foreign suppliers remains the solution that companies must prioritize.

Companies can purchase directly from foreign producers without the risk of the imported masks being publicly requisitioned. However, imports exceeding five million masks on a sliding quarter must be declared to the state (via the address:click here), which will have a short period of time (72 hours) to confirm its interest in replacing the buyer in whole or in part; if there is no response after 72 hours, the imported masks are not requisitioned.

The Directorate General for Enterprise (Ministry for the Economy and Finance) is working to facilitate contact between mask importers and French buyers, and to help companies find logistical solutions and remove all identified obstacles.

Should you have any questions, please send a message to the following address: masques.dge@finances.gouv.fr

Regarding the customs aspects, companies can consult the information file published by French customs authorities regarding the arrangements in place to facilitate the procedures during the health crisis: click here

Moreover, the government has decided to overhaul and soften compliance standards on imported face masks:

  • Face masks that comply with the European standard (bearing CE marking) may be imported freely until May 31, 2020, and do not need to be inspected by customs.
  • Surgical face masks compliant with American and Chinese standards, as well as FFP2 respirators in compliance with American, Chinese, Australian, New Zealand, Korean and Japanese standards may also be imported and used in France until May 31, 2020. The administration has adopted simplified measures to ease their way through customs. Non-European importers are invited to gather evidence on the compliance of these imported goods with the above mentioned standards and to include it in the customs clearance files, in particular the technical files establishing, firstly, the compliance of the goods with European or equivalent standards and, secondly, the link between the certificates presented and the imported goods.

These documents are to be sent to the customs declaration office immediately, or at the very latest, upon validation of the declaration.

Companies may contact the regional economic action hubs of the French customs authorities for any assistance needed to prepare these imports.

French customs import info

French customs advises

 Where can companies buy hydroalcoholic gel?

The marketplace also allows companies to purchase large quantities of hydroalcoholic gel and solutions (at least 300 liters of hydroalcoholic products per week).

The Directorate General for Enterprise (Ministry for the Economy and Finance) recommends that companies that cannot consider ordering at least 300 liters should work together to obtain supplies or identify a distributor that could, at its level, obtain supplies through this site or by itself.

In addition, the DGE, in conjunction with all the industry federations concerned, publishes on a daily basis an extended list of producers and their production capacity of industrial quantities in order to make supplies more fluid.

Contact : gelcoronavirus.dge@finances.gouv.fr

For more information, please visit the official French government website: click here

For more information, please visit:

Ministry of labour & Employement

Coronavirus Government Info

Coronavirus Ministry of labour & Employement

Press release Ministry of Labour & Employement

 

5. What is the health-related guidance when a work area has proved to be contaminated?

 

 Prior to the reopening of establishment, the employer, along with the occupational health, has to set up an ad hoc procedure for taking charge of employees exhibiting symptoms of Covid-19.

In order to help identifying contact person in the event of a confirmed case, a record of contacts and their role shall be elaborated.

When an employee is exhibiting symptoms, (particularly fever and/or cough, difficulty breathing, speaking, swallowing, loss of smell and taste), a protocol must be as follows:

– Social distancing;

– Protection;

– Looking for serious symptoms.

After taking charge of the employee, employers must contact the occupational health service and follow its instructions, including for the cleaning of the workplace and the monitoring of employees.

In the event of contamination, the following measures should be taken, as the coronavirus can likely survive for three hours on dry surfaces:

  • Equip those in charge of cleaning floors and surfaces with single-use lab coats, cleaning gloves (the use of respiratory protective masks is not necessary, as particles on floors and surfaces cannot become airborne).
  • Floor upkeep: opt preferably for a wet washing-disinfection strategy (single-use washing strip soaked in detergent product; rinse using water from drinking water system, using another single-use washing strip; allow adequate drying time; disinfect using a chlorine-based product with a single-use washing strip).
  • Waste generated by the contaminated person can be disposed of via the usual method.

Allow contaminated employees to take time off work (depending on the physician’s advice) or work from home (suspected contamination). Working patterns will need to be reconsidered and the situation monitored for at least 14 days. The mere fact that an employee has been contaminated is not enough, subject to the sovereign opinion of the courts, to be construed as reasonable grounds to exercise the right of withdrawal.

For more information, please visit: https://travail-emploi.gouv.fr/actualites/l-actualite-du-ministere/article/coronavirus-questions-reponses-pour-les-entreprises-et-les-salaries

https://www.gouvernement.fr/info-coronavirus#partie7n5

https://code.travail.gouv.fr/dossiers/ministere-du-travail-notre-dossier-sur-le-coronavirus

https://travail-emploi.gouv.fr/actualites/presse/communiques-de-presse/article/protocole-national-de-deconfinement-pour-les-entreprises-pour-assurer-la

6. What solutions are provided for vulnerable employees or on paid leave of absence for childcare?

 

In the context of Covid-19, the Government has set up an exceptional mechanism of derogatory paid leave of absence for vulnerable employees or childcare when teleworking cannot be adopted.

As of May 1, the relevant categories of employees are to be placed on short-time working instead of a paid leave covered by Social Security, insofar as they would still be unable to carry out their professional activity.

To maintain compensation, vulnerable or at-risk employees shall immediately provide their employer with a certificate stating their need for social distancing and thus the impossibility to get to work.

Employers shall request short-time working for the employee within 30 days after May 1st. Employers do not need to put all their employees on short-time working due to reduction or temporary suspension of activity for these specific employees to benefit from it.

This measure applies to this category of employees up to a date that shall be set by decree and no later than December 31, 2020.

 

For more information, please visit: https://travail-emploi.gouv.fr/actualites/l-actualite-du-ministere/article/coronavirus-questions-reponses-pour-les-entreprises-et-les-salaries

https://www.gouvernement.fr/info-coronavirus#partie7n5

https://code.travail.gouv.fr/dossiers/ministere-du-travail-notre-dossier-sur-le-coronavirus

https://www.ameli.fr/

https://travail-emploi.gouv.fr/le-ministere-en-action/coronavirus-covid-19/questions-reponses-par-theme/article/activite-partielle-chomage-partiel

 

7. What are the general rules regarding the exercise of the right of withdrawal?

 

Normally, in the event of serious and imminent danger to their life or health, employees are entitled to suspend their own activity after having informed the employer of the said danger. The alert and withdrawal procedure is triggered as soon as employees put forward a substantiated reason to fear for their lives.

The relevant assessment is made on a case-by-case basis. For the present purposes, a “serious” danger is any danger likely to cause an accident or illness resulting in death or appearing likely to result in permanent or temporary extended incapacity, and an “imminent” danger is any danger likely to materialize suddenly in the near future.

Employers may not sanction any employees choosing to exercise this right or cease to pay their salary.

Nevertheless, in the current circumstances, while employees may exercise their right of withdrawal, this applies under very limited conditions in which the employer does not take the preventive and protective measures recommended by the Government.

When an employer has implemented the provisions provided for by the Labor Code and national recommendations (https://www.gouvernement.fr/info-coronavirus) aimed at protecting the health and ensuring the safety of its staff, which it has informed and prepared, particularly in the context of staff representative institutions, the individual right of withdrawal cannot in principle be exercised.

If the exercising of the right of withdrawal is clearly abusive, the employer may make a corresponding deduction from the employee’s salary and, depending on the circumstances, dismiss the employee on “real and serious grounds”.

For more information, please visit: https://travail-emploi.gouv.fr/actualites/l-actualite-du-ministere/article/coronavirus-questions-reponses-pour-les-entreprises-et-les-salaries

https://www.gouvernement.fr/info-coronavirus#partie7n5

https://code.travail.gouv.fr/dossiers/ministere-du-travail-notre-dossier-sur-le-coronavirus

 

8. What is the role of the CSE and when should it be informed/consulted?

 

The CSE’s responsibility is to promote health, safety and the improvement of working conditions in the company and plays a particularly important part in crisis situations.

In particular, it must be involved in the risk assessment updating procedure and consulted on updates to the risk assessment reference document (Question 2).

Furthermore, in companies with more than 50 employees, the CSE must be informed and consulted on issues relating to significant changes in the organization of work, the use of partial activity and derogations from rules relating to working time and rest periods.

For these questions, the employer’s decisions must be supported by the CSE.

The use of videoconferencing is encouraged if necessary, to avoid physical contact and, should the urgency of the situation so require, the employer may take protective measures to organize work before carrying out the consultation.

For more information, please visit: https://travail-emploi.gouv.fr/actualites/l-actualite-du-ministere/article/coronavirus-questions-reponses-pour-les-entreprises-et-les-salaries

https://www.gouvernement.fr/info-coronavirus#partie7n5

https://code.travail.gouv.fr/dossiers/ministere-du-travail-notre-dossier-sur-le-coronavirus

 

9. Do employers need to provide protective face masks to employees going to work?

 

Distributing protective face masks to employees, though not mandatory, is one of the preventives measures a company can take to protect the health and ensure the safety of its employees at work (where teleworking is not possible) whilst continuing to operate.

Employers may thus do so, subject to certain conditions.

  • In order to ensure that face masks are both available and accessible as a priority to health professionals and patients in the context of Covid-19 disease, the Government has decided to requisition, until 31 May 2020, stocks of certain categories of masks produced, distributed or held on French territory by natural or legal persons.

This applies to the following masks:

– respiratory protective devices (FFP2, FFP3, N95, N99, N100, P95, P99, P100, R95, R99, R100 face masks and respirators)

– fluid-resistant face masks in compliance with EN 14683 standards.

  • Nonetheless, in order to enable and encourage employers to make these types of face masks available to currently working employees , the requisition does not apply to face masks imported from abroad as from 21 March 2020, up to 5 million units imported per quarter and per legal entity.

Beyond this threshold, companies shall make a declaration for imports to the Ministry of Health (covid19-imports@sante.gouv.fr), which will have 72 hours to decide on a partial or total requisition.

Foreign sourcing is thus permitted.

However, public authorities urge companies not to purchase from four of the French healthcare system’s strategic suppliers: BYD, ADEN, FOSUN and CEGETEX.

Santé Publique France may provide protective face masks to companies that urgently need them (limited supply). Interested companies must contact the Directorate General for Enterprise (Ministry of Economy and Finance). However, face mask stocks remain primarily dedicated to healthcare professionals and establishments: the supply solution via foreign suppliers must remain the preferred route for companies wishing to acquire masks.

For any question: masques.dge@finances.gouv.fr

  • Moreover, due to exceptional circumstances, the Government has decided to overhaul and soften compliance standards on imported face masks:

– Face masks that comply with the European standard (bearing EC marking) may be imported unrestrictedly until 31 May 2020, and do not require any inspection by customs .

– Surgical face masks compliant with American and Chinese standards, as well as FFP2 respirators in compliance with American, Chinese, Australian, New Zealand, Korean and Japanese standards may also be imported and used in France until 31 May 2020. The Administration has adopted simplified measures to ease their way through customs.

Non-European importers   are invited to gather  evidence on the compliance of these imported goods with the abovementioned standards  and to include it in the customs clearance files, in particular the technical files establishing,firstly , the compliance of the goods with European or equivalent standards and, secondly, the connection between the certificates presented and the imported goods.

These documents are to be sent to the customs declaration office immediately, and at the latest, upon validation of the declaration.

Process: https://www.douane.gouv.fr/demarche/deposer-une-declaration-en-douane-import-export

Companies may contact the regional economic action hubs of the French customs services for any assistance needed to prepare these imports.

Contacts: https://www.douane.gouv.fr/les-cellules-conseil-aux-entreprises

For more information, please visit: https://www.douane.gouv.fr/fiche/covid-19-mesures-destinees-assurer-la-fluidite-des-importations-des-masques-et-materiels

  • The Government also wanted to facilitate equipment for employees who continue to go to their workplace by creating, on 29 March 2020, under the supervision of the French National Agency for Medicines and Health Products Safety (ANSM), two new categories of face masks tailored for non-healthcare workers:
  • Individual masks for use by professionals in contact with the public, filtering at least 90% of three-micron particles. Use intended for populations that may come in contact with the public in the context of their professional activities (police, gendarmes, cashiers, etc.).
  • Collective protective masks to protect an entire group, filtering at least 70% of three-micron particles. To be used by individuals who have occasional contact with other people in the course of their professional activities, for example in a company when the position or working conditions so require.

Following significant mobilisation in the French textile industry, 85 prototypes proposed by 45 companies were validated by the French Ministry of Defence enabling a daily production estimated at 480,000 units.

These face masks will be available very soon, via the following online platform: https://stopcovid19.fr/customer/account/login/

Supported by the Ministry of the Economy and Finance, this platform enables manufacturers and distributors of essential products and equipment, as well as their service providers and subcontractors, to market their products to health professionals, food distribution players, and to any company  involved in fighting the spread of COVID-19 disease and taking all necessary action to ensure the protection of the health of their employees.

For more information, please visit:

Decree no. 2020-293 of 23 March 2020 instituting the general measures necessary to address the covid-19 epidemic as part of the state of health emergency (in French)

https://www.entreprises.gouv.fr/covid-19/approvisionnement-en-masques-et-gel-hydroalcoolique

https://info-entreprises-covid19.economie.gouv.fr/kb/explanation/mobilisation-pour-la-production-de-masques-de-protection-et-de-gels-hydro-alcooliques-jRsD0BrWQd/Steps/28392

https://www.entreprises.gouv.fr/covid-19/liste-des-tests-masques-de-protection

 

10. I have a stock of face masks that are subject to requisition or a supply that exceeds my needs : what is the correct procedure?

 

With the exception of face masks imported to France and up to a  5 million units limit per quarter, the requisition currently applies to all stocks of face masks produced, distributed or held in France ( FFP2, FFP3, N95, N99, N100, P95, P99, P100, R95, R99, R100 respirators and face masks and fluid-resistant face masks that meet the EN 14683 standard).

Companies in possession of such stocks are invited to:

– for stocks of less than 500 units, offer their stocks or surpluses directly to the hospitals closest to the companies

– for stocks greater than 500 units, contact the regional health agency of their location, which will be responsible for redistributing them to healthcare structures in the territory

– for stocks greater than 200,000 units, contact the Ministry of Health (covid19-stock200@sante.gouv.fr)

A receipt may be given to the company so that it can seek compensation.

 

11. How to postpone the social contributions’ payment due date with URSSAF?

 

Employers whose URSSAF due date falls on the 15th of the month were able to defer all or part of the payment of their employee and employer contributions for the due date of March 15th, 2020. Likewise, employers whose URSSAF due date falls on the 5th of the month may defer all or part of the payment of their employee and employer contributions for the due date of April 5th, 2020.

The date of payment of these contributions may be postponed for up to 3 months: information will be provided later. No penalty will be applied.

How to modulate the payment of social contributions?

  • Due date of March 15th, 2020:

Employers of less than 50 employees were able to modify the payment order until March 19th, 2020 at 7AM by following an operating procedure available on the URSAFF websiteFrom 7AM to 12PM, the employers had the opportunity to contact their bank to request the rejection of the ongoing URSAFF payment. Social contributions may be postponed for up to 3 months. Information will be provided later. In case of non-payment, no penalty would be applied. For contributions payment outside the NSD (Nominative Social Declaration), employers could adapt the amount of the bank transfer or not make the transfer at all.

  • Due date of April 5th, 2020:

Employers whose URSSAF due date falls on the 5th of the month may defer all or part of the payment of their employee and employer contributions for the due date of April 5th, 2020. The date of payment of these contributions may be postponed for up to 3 months: information will be provided later. No penalty will be applied.

Employers can modulate their payment according to their needs: amount to 0, or amount corresponding to a part of the contributions. Nonetheless, declaration and transmission of the NSD was required before April 6th, 2020 at 12PM:

  • First case: the employer pays contributions outside the NSD, by bank transfer: can adapt the amount of transfer, or not make a transfer at all.
  • Second case: the employer pays contributions via the NSD: must transmit the March 2020 NSD by April 6th, 2020 at 12PM and can modulate SEPA payment within this NSD.

For employers that do not opt for a deferment of the contributions payment and wish to pay off the employer’s contributions, they may stagger the payment of the latter as usual. To do so, they should log onto their URSSAF’s online profile and report their situation through mail: “New message”/ “Reporting formality”/ “Report an exception situation.” It is also possible to contact URSSAF by phone at 3957 (0,12€ / min + price of a local call).

A postponement or a delay agreement is also possible for supplementary pension contributions. Employers are invited to contact their supplementary pension institution.

In the current context, when our health care system and more broadly our social protection as well as the State action are more than ever requested, it is important that companies that can afford it contribute to the funding of the national solidarity. We call on businesses to demonstrate responsibility in their agreed-upon use of the facilities so that they benefit the most in need.

 

12. How to spread or defer the payment of direct taxes?

 

You may request a spreading or a deferral of your direct taxes settlement to your Local Tax Administration Service (SIE) or to the DGE for the large companies.

A specific form is available online to ensure the follow-up of your request and the amounts of the deferral. Simply fill in the form and send it to your Corporate Tax Department via email.

Deferrals are granted for a period of 3 month without neither any penalty nor any proof.

For the most complex situations, you may request a remission of direct taxes. You should fill in the form and demonstrate your inability to pay (decline in turnover, debts to be settled, cash position).

For settled maturities of March, if you were able to oppose the SEPA Direct Debit at your online bank, no further actions are needed.

For monthly payment contracts (corporate real property tax (CFE) or property tax (taxe foncière)), suspension is possible online at www.impots.gouv.fr or by contacting the Service Collection Centre. The remaining amount will be deducted from the balance, without penalty.

 

13. How to spread or defer the payment of indirect taxes?

 

Deferral requests only apply to direct taxes and social contributions. The payment of indirect taxes (VAT, excise duty, etc.) is due on time, without deferral.

The State action focuses on taxation affecting directly businesses and not final consumers, which represents already a tremendous effort.

For indirect taxes, just like the withholding tax, companies only act as tax collector on behalf of the State but are not liable. In the event of reduced economic activity, indirect taxes “reduce” as well.

 

14. How to benefit immediately from tax credit on corporate income tax?

 

If your company is eligible to one or several tax credits refundable in 2020, you may request the reimbursement of the balance as of now, after imputation on your corporate income tax if applicable, without waiting the deposit of your tax return.

This scheme applies to all tax credits refundable in 2020, like the tax credit for employment and competitiveness (CICE) and the R&D tax credit (CIR) for the part which reimbursement is due this year or for the following struggling sectors:

  • Tax credit for expenditures related to the production of cinematographic works,
  • Tax credit for expenditures related to the production of audio-visual works,
  • Tax credit for expenditures related to the production of foreign movies and audio-visual works,
  • Tax credit in favour of companies of live, musical or variety entertainments,
  • Tax credit for expenditures related to the production of phonographic works,
  • Tax credit in favour or video games creators.

To do so, you will have to declare on www.impots.gouv.fr, in your online professional profile:

The Corporate Tax Department (SIE) rallies round to address as fast as possible, under a couple of days, the reimbursement requests of companies.

 

15. How to benefit from deferral of rent and water, gas and electricity bills?

 

For VSEs and SMEs whose activity is interrupted: rents and charges will be called monthly instead of quarterly.

The collection of rents and charges is suspended as of April 1st, 2020 and for the subsequent periods of cessation of activity imposed by decree. When business resumes, these rents and charges will be subject to deferred payment or spread without penalty or interest on arrears and adapted to the situation of the companies in question.

For VSEs and SMEs whose activity is interrupted by decree, these measures will apply automatically without consideration of special situations.

Regarding companies whose activity, without being interrupted, has been considerably weakened by the coronavirus outbreak, their situation will be assessed on a case-by-case basis, in accordance with their economic realities.

 

16. How to benefit from credit mediation to negotiate a rescheduling of bank loans with your banks?

 

How does it work?

Credit mediation is a public scheme designed to assist companies experiencing difficulties with one or several finance partners (banks, lessors, factoring companies, credit insurers, etc.).

Companies may benefit from credit mediation throughout the national territory thanks to the action of the 105 credit mediators that are the directors of the Banque de France in mainland France and the directors of the issuing institutions in the French overseas departments.

How to benefit from it?

You may call upon credit mediators on their website.

Within 48 hours, the credit mediator should contact you, assess the receivability of your request and establish a plan of actions. The mediator reaches out to the concerned banks.

The credit mediator may gather the financial partners of your company to identify and resolve the deadlock point as well as to suggest a solution to the stakeholders.

 

17. How to benefit from State-guaranteed treasury loans?

 

The Government has implemented an unprecedented 300 billion euros scheme of guaranties to bolster bank financing for companies threatened by the impact of the Coronavirus outbreak.

Until December 31st, companies of all sizes, whatever their legal form (especially merchants, craftspeople, farmers, liberal professions, micro-entrepreneurs, associations and foundations having an economic activity), with the exception of non-trading property companies, credit institutions and finance companies, can apply to their usual bank for a State-guaranteed loan to support their cashflow.

The amount of the loan may reach up to 3 months of the company’s 2019 turnover, or 2 years of payroll for innovative companies or companies created since January 2019. No repayment will be required in the first year, and the company may choose to amortize the loan over a maximum period of 5 years.

The banks are committed to reviewing all applications and providing a quick response. They undertake to distribute the state-guaranteed loans on a massive scale, at cost price, to support the cashflow of companies and professionals without delay. Nonetheless, all companies, especially the largest, that would not meet their terms of payment obligations, will not have access to this State-guarantee for their bank loans.

In addition, French banks are committed to spread the reimbursement of loans by firms to up to 6 months without additional charge.

How to benefit from State-guaranteed treasury loans?

For compagnies with less than 5000 employees and that accounted a turnover of less than 1.5 billion euros in France:

1. The company contacts a banking partner to make a request for a loan. The request may gather several loans. The cumulative amount for these loans must not exceed 25% of the company’s turnover, or 2 years of payroll for innovative companies or companies created since January 2019.

2. After assessing the situation of the company (eligibility criteria notably), the bank gives a pre-agreement for a loan.

3. The company logs onto the attestation-pge.bpifrance.fr platform to obtain its unique user ID to be communicated to the bank. To do so, the company must provide its SIREN, the amount of the loan and the name of the bank branch. Within the first month of the process, the company will be given only a single user ID. In this regard, this request should be made after receiving the pre-agreement from the bank.

4. Upon confirmation of the unique user ID by Bpifrance, the bank grants the loan. In case of difficulty or refusal, the company may contact Bpifrance at the following email address: supportentrepriseattestation-pge@bpifrance.fr

For compagnies with more than 5000 employees or that accounted a turnover of more than 1.5 billion euros in France:

1. The company contacts a banking partner to make a request for a loan and is given a pre-agreement by the bank.

2. The company forward its request to the following email address: etat.grandesentreprises@bpifrance.fr.

3. At reception, the file is assessed for the State by the General Directorate of the Treasury assisted by Bpifrance Financement SA.

4. The State-guarantee is given by individual order of the Ministry for Economic Affairs and Finance.

5. Banks can then grant the loan to the firm.

In addition, the measures implemented by Bpifrance remain: guarantee given to SMEs and mid-cap companies on confirmed credit lines for 12 to 18 months or on 3 to 7-year loans; a 6-month deferment as of March 16th, 2020. To benefit from these measures:

  • Fill out the online form,
  • Or call the Bpifrance’s “coronavirus” toll-free number: 0969 370240.

 

18. How to benefit from mediation between companies in the event of a conflict?

 

How does it work?

Mediation between companies offers a free, fast and reactive mediation service: a mediator contacts the requesting company within 7 days in order to establish a confidential plan of action. Confidentiality of business is preserved as well as companies’ reputation.

A mediator may be asked to resolve any dispute related to the fulfilment of a contract of private law, including tacit agreements, or of public procurement (ex: delayed payment, non-conforming goods or services, etc.).

How to benefit from it?

You may call upon company mediators online.

Ahead of any request, you may ask your questions or seek advice on the process with complete confidentiality by filling the contact form.

All available information may be found on the following website: www.economie.gouv.fr/mediateur-des-entreprises.

 

19. How to benefit from liquidity support loans?

 

As part of the urgent stimulus and support plan dedicated to companies and with its partners (regions, banks, etc.), Bpifrance is launching liquidity support loans.

Unsecured loans on the assets of the company or its manager, they are intended for VSEs, SMEs and mid-cap companies threatened by the impact of the Coronavirus outbreak:

– With the regions, rebound loan of 10K€ to 300K€ over 7 years, including 2 years of deferred capital amortization.

20. How can employees benefit from the exceptional purchasing power bonus?

 

  • In the midst of the Covid-19 outbreak, the Ordinance n°2020-385 of 1st April 2020 has eased the payment terms and conditions of the exceptional purchasing power bonus (called “PEPA”), compared to those initially set out in the Social Security Financing Act for 2020.

    What is the exceptional purchasing power bonus? 

    Introduced in December 2018, this “exceptional bonus”, is paid by employers at their discretion, can be up to €1,000 and is designed to increase employees’ purchasing power.

    Open to employees that are paid less than three times the legal annual minimum wage, the PEPA is totally exempt from social security contributions and taxes for both the employer and the employee.

    What changes were made to the payment terms and conditions of this “exceptional bonus” in the context of Covid-19?

    Revised conditions of the payment of the exceptional purchasing power bonus

    In order to benefit from the social and tax exemptions provided for under this scheme, several conditions must be met:

    1° The deadline for the payment of the bonus has been extended from June 30th, 2020 to August 31st, 2020.

    2° Until 1 April 2020, only employers implementing a profit-sharing agreement on the date of payment of the bonus could benefit from the social and tax exemptions.

    From now on, all employers are free to pay this bonus of €1,000.

    The amount of the bonus

    The ordinance also specifies that the bonus can be up to EUR 2,000, for companies that have a profit-sharing agreement in place or that implement one by 31 August 2020.

    The PEPA is exempt, up to a limit of €1000 or €2000 per beneficiary, from all social security contributions, CSG and CRDS. Within the same limit of €1,000 or 2,000, the bonus is also not subject to the employee’s income tax.

    It should be noted that a higher bonus may be paid by the employer, but the tax and social benefits attached to this bonus may only be granted up to the above-mentioned caps.

    The criteria for adjusting the amount of the bonus

    Employers may choose a uniform amount when paying the bonus to their employees, but they may also choose to adjust the amount according to the beneficiaries, according to certain criteria, such as the employee’s salary or classification level.

    Due to exceptional circumstances and in order to reward more specifically employees employed during the Covid-19 epidemic, a new criterion for adjusting the amount of the bonus may be agreed upon by a collective agreement or unilateral decision of the employer. Therefore, the bonus may be allocated based on employee’s working conditions in these exceptional circumstances.

    For more information, please visit: https://travail-emploi.gouv.fr/droit-du-travail/la-remuneration/article/la-prime-exceptionnelle-de-pouvoir-d-achat

    https://travail-emploi.gouv.fr/actualites/l-actualite-du-ministere/article/coronavirus-questions-reponses-pour-les-entreprises-et-les-salaries 

    https://www.gouvernement.fr/info-coronavirus#partie7n5 

    https://code.travail.gouv.fr/dossiers/ministere-du-travail-notre-dossier-sur-le-coronavirus 

    https://travail-emploi.gouv.fr/IMG/pdf/covid19_obligations_employeur.pdf

  • Asset loan of up to 5M€ for SMEs, 15M€ for mid-cap companies over 3 to 5 years with a deferred depreciation.
  • Fill out the online form

 

21. What measures have been taken to encourage recruitment during the health crisis?

 

Companies providing essential services are in dire need of manpower, to ensure their activities and the economic continuity of the country. The Government has thus created a platform designed to facilitate exceptional mobilization for employment and enable volunteering workers to apply in these priority sectors.

The temporary secondment of employees can also be implemented to enable companies involved in priority activities to the Nation, to be maintained without interruption, to enable French men and women to supply themselves and protect their health.

The launch of the #MobilisationEmploi platform

For whom?

The French Ministry of Labor has launched on April 2, 2020, the #MobilisationEmploi platform with the support of Pôle Emploi, to meet the need for manpower reinforcement in the priority sectors for the economic continuity of the country. This platform is primarily intended for priority sectors that need to recruit at this time of the year and willing to give visibility to their needs to available candidates, either job seekers or on short-time working. Job offers can be posted online without having to create an account.

The following sectors of activity are particularly brought to the fore: medicosocial, agriculture, food processing, transport, logistics, commerce, home help, energy, telecoms.

Employees benefitting from short-time working thus have, provided they
have received prior approval from their employer, the possibility of entering an employment contract with a company in the agricultural and foodprocessing sector, where additional manpower is required.

Employees benefitting from short-time working will be able to combine their short-time working allowance with the salary of their employment contract, provided they have received prior approval from their employer and that a 7-day notice period was observed before resuming work.

Furthermore, employers in the agricultural industry which hire these
employees must release them from their obligations within the same 7 day notice period.

How?

The #MobilisationEmploi platform allows any recruiter to make their needs known in a simple and quick way. They are contacted within 24 hours by a Pôle Emploi business liaison.
To facilitate hiring, a recruitment process is put in place with the support of Pôle Emploi, which contacts employers to help them define the position
requirements. A pre-selection of candidates can also be carried out by Pôle
Emploi, at the discretion of employers, on their behalf.

Easy contact points have been specifically set up by Pôle Emploi to assist companies in their recruitment process, by telephone on 3995 (toll-free
number) or by e-mail via the recruiters’ section on Pôle Emploi. In light of the current context, Pôle Emploi counsellors are to remind recruiters that the mandatory sanitary instructions provided by the Government must be implemented for any published job offer.

To assist employers in implementing these health and safety instructions, the Ministry of Labour has put «job advice sheets» online for their use, explaining how to prevent the risk of Covid-19 contamination.

These sheets can be found at the following address: https://travail-emploi.
gouv.fr/actualites/l-actualite-du-ministere/article/coronavirus-covid-19-
fiches-conseils-metiers-pour-les-salaries-et-les

Which sponsors?

Through the creation of the #MobilisationEmploi platform by the Government, various economic and institutional actors of employment have joined forces to support companies and professionals providing essential services.

The list of these actors is available at the following address:
https://www.pole-emploi.fr/actualites/a-laffiche/les-partenaires.html
Temporary secondment of employees

Given the nature of this crisis, the ministry of Labor makes it possible for unoccupied employees who wishes for it, to be transferred temporarily to a
company facing a lack of staff.

This temporary secondment implies the prior consent of the employee and both companies. As part of this mechanism, the employees’ work contract and 100% of their usual salary are maintained, paid by the initial employer. The company temporarily hosting the employee shall then repay the salary.

Secondment of employees between two companies requires an amendment to the employee’s work contract as well as the signing of a secondment agreement.

To download a work contract amendment template for secondment:
https://travail-emploi.gouv.fr/IMG/docx/modele-avenant-contrat-travailpmo.docx

To download a secondment agreement:
https://travail-emploi.gouv.fr/IMG/docx/modele-convention-pmo.docx

For more information, please visit:

https://mobilisationemploi.gouv.fr/#/accueil
https://travail-emploi.gouv.fr/actualites/l-actualite-du-ministere/article/
mobilisation-exceptionnelle-pour-l-emploi-lancement-d-une-plateforme-de
https://travail-emploi.gouv.fr/le-ministere-en-action/coronaviruscovid-19/questions-reponses-par-theme/
https://www.gouvernement.fr/info-coronavirus#partie7n5
https://code.travail.gouv.fr/dossiers/ministere-du-travail-notre-dossiersur-le-coronavirushttps://mobilisationemploi.gouv.fr/#/accueil

 

22. Is it possible to increase employees’ working hours during this health crisis? (exceptional circumstances)

 

The Law n°2020-290 declaring a public health emergency entered into force on March 23, 2020 and gives the government permission to use ordinances to deal with the consequences of the spread of COVID-19 on employment. A draft ordinance was submitted to the Council of Ministers of France on March 25, 2020 and includes the following:

How can working hours be changed to respond to an increase in activity?

Companies providing essential services, especially to the security of the
nation or the continuity of economic and social life will be able to derogate
from the rules on working hours and rest periods (decree listing the sectors concerned to be published). The following sectors have been mentioned: agri-food; logistics; transport; telecommunications.

From March 26 until December 31, 2020, companies operating in the listed
sectors may provide (decree to be published):

• a maximum daily working time of 12 hours.
• a daily rest period of nine consecutive hours (instead of 11 hours).
• a maximum working week of 60 hours.
• a weekly working week calculated over 12 consecutive weeks of 48
hours.
• a 44-hour night working week over 12 consecutive weeks.
• derogations from Sunday rest days by allocating weekly rest in shifts.

A company which implements one of these derogations must inform without delay and by any means the DIRECCTE and the CSE (where one exists). .

How to derogate from paid leave?

The employer may move leave days already requested by the employee to another future period to cover the 14-day period, due to exceptional circumstances. Although, if the employee has not requested leave, the employer cannot require that any be taken. However, due to exceptional circumstances, the draft ordinance plans on authorizing the employer to impose one week’s paid leave (six working days) subject to a company-wide agreement.

With regard to leave under the RTT (reduced work week) system: employers wishing to change their policy during this period may do so, provided they fulfil the deadline provided for in the collective agreement. However, due to exceptional circumstances, the draft ordinance plans on authorizing the employer to unilaterally impose RTT, if this is justified by the interests of the company and within the overall limit of 10 days. The Ministry of Labor has announced that companies will be able to require their employees to take one week of leave during the COVID-19 crisis subject to an agreement with employee representatives.

For more information, please visit:
• coronavirus-questions-reponses-pour-les-entreprises-et-les-salaries
• gouvernement.fr/info-coronavirus
• code.travail.fr/ministere-du-travail-notre-dossier-sur-le-coronavirus

 

23. What mechanisms can be used in case of business fluctuations as a result of the crisis?

 

Situation 1: how can companies adjust to a fall in business?

In order to limit the consequences of a fall in business due to COVID-19, the Government has adapted short-time working (“technical unemployment”), which helps companies facing economic difficulties.

What is short-time working?

Short-time working enables to mitigate the repercussions on employees’ remuneration of sudden and unforeseeable falls in a company’s activity and to avoid redundancies. It is therefore a tool for preserving jobs. This mechanism allows companies to close temporarily, in full or in part, while entitling employees placed on partial employment to receive compensation from their employer to offset the loss of remuneration due to hours not worked.

How can it be implemented?

Employers may put their employees in partial activity in the following cases:

• Reduction or temporary suspension of the activity due to the economic
situation.
• Difficulties in the supply of raw materials.
• Disaster or bad weather.
• Corporate restructuring.
• Or any other circumstances of an exceptional nature.
How to benefit from short-time working?
This system can be activated electronically on the website of the Ministry of
Labor dedicated to reduced unemployment: activitepartielle.emploi.gouv.fr.
Applications must include:
• The reason for appeal = exceptional circumstances + coronavirus.
• The detailed circumstances and economic situation giving rise to the
request.
• The foreseeable period of underemployment, which may extend to June
30, 2020 from the first application.
• The number of employees concerned.
• The forecast number of hours of unemployment.

Due to exceptional circumstances, authorization is granted within a period of two days (tacit approval in the event of non-response). The employee does not need to take any action. In addition, such requests do not require prior consultation with employee representatives (usually mandatory).

However, the CSE is to be consulted within two months after the request.
Since March 16, 2020, the Ministry of Labor has indicated that companies now have 30 days to complete their reduced activity request, with retroactive effect.

Companies requiring assistance in this process may refer to the DIRECCTE’s one-stop shop in their region (contacts : click here)

How much compensation is paid to employees?

Employers must maintain a part of the employees’ remuneration by paying an indemnity equal to 70% of the gross salary (about 84% of the net) to their employees. Employees on minimum wage (SMIC) receive 100% compensation.

What compensation is paid to the employer?

The employer is reimbursed in full by the State, for wages up to €6,927 gross per month (i.e. 4.5 times the SMIC). Therefore, there is no remainder payable by the company within this ceiling. On the other hand, if employers pay their employees an indemnity of more than 70% of their previous remuneration, this additional part is not borne by the public authorities

A simulator is available to employers: click here
Reduced activity compensation paid by employers to their employees are not subject to the lump-sum payment on wages, nor to employee and employer social security contributions.On the other hand, they are subject to the CSG at 6.20% rate and the CRDS at a 0.50% rate. These two contributions are calculated based on 98.25% of the indemnity paid

For more information, please visit:
• coronavirus-questions-reponses-pour-les-entreprises-et-les-salaries
• gouvernement.fr/info-coronavirus
• travail-emploi.gouv.fr/covid19_obligations_employeur
• code.travail.fr/ministere-du-travail-notre-dossier-sur-le-coronavirus
• travail-emploi.gouv.fr/activite-partielle

Situation 2: How can employers maintain employment for their workers?

In the event of extended under-employment, or even total cessation of activity, companies may request support under the FNE-Formation training mechanism, instead of short-time working, in order to invest in employees’ skills. This approach enables companies to implement ad hoc and urgent training actions for their employees, especially those at the greatest risk of losing their job, or those whose qualifications are inadequate compared to the needs of the labor market in their employment zone.
By implementing this training mechanism, employers can facilitate the
continuity of activity for employees in the face of the development caused
by economic and technological changes, while also fostering their transition into new jobs.
This mechanism is the subject of an agreement concluded between the State (DIRECCTE) and the company and is intended as a priority for companies with fewer than 250 employees.

Where it is the only public funder, the State can grant aid of up to 50%
of the eligible costs or even 70% under certain circumstances. In return,
the company undertakes to keep the employees participating in training in employment for a period at least equal to the duration of the agreement, plus six months.

In addition, employee remuneration is included in the cost base eligible for support, in the same way as training enrolment costs.
For more information, please visit:
• coronavirus-questions-reponses-pour-les-entreprises-et-les-salaries
• gouvernement.fr/info-coronavirus
• code.travail.fr/ministere-du-travail-notre-dossier-sur-le-coronavirus