Remote work or telework is work carried out wholly or partially outside the company's premises, either from home or remotely. Details can be set up through a collective agreement, a charter drawn by the employer or individually agreed on terms between the employer and the employee.
Employees in roles that allow them to carry their tasks out at a distance can request to work from home. They can inform their employer of their intention either verbally or in writing, and the employer who refuses must justify their reason. Employers do not need to make changes to the employment contract to allow an employee to telework.
Work from home
Employers must specify the following elements when allowing some or all employees to work from home:
- Positions eligible for teleworking
- Conditions for switching to and from teleworking
- How the employee will accept the conditions for implementing teleworking
- Working time control or workload regulation mode
- The time slots during which the employer can contact the employee
Employers allowing workers to work remotely have the following obligations:
- Inform employees of any restriction on the use of computer and communication equipment or tools. The information must warn employees of the penalties in the event of non-compliance with these restrictions
- Hold an annual meeting with the employee working from home to address the employee's working conditions and workload
- Provide employees with a work from home allowance, on average €10 per month per day of the week of remote working to cover teleworking costs. The allowance is exempt from social contributions and is capped at €50 per month
- Provide the employee with compensation for using their personal space as their work office if the company has no office. That includes work furniture, storage space, internet and telephone connection. Employers must also reimburse employees for the use of coworking spaces if they don't provide employees with an office.
- Provide employees with all the equipment and maintenance required for working without generating costs for the worker
- Respect the employee's private life and time outside work by contacting employees only during the fixed working hours agreed in advance
- Maintain a regular link with all employees to share decisions and recognize the work done
Health & safety at home
Employers are responsible for accidents at home during telework performance, just like they are in the office premises. Therefore, employers must treat home offices as an extension of the company's office and address risk assessment and prevention and inform employees of risks they might be exposed to when working from home, both physically and mentally.
Since the employer's access to the employee's home office is limited, it's the employee responsibility to comply with the provisions and instructions relating to health and safety at work and immediately inform the company in the event of an accident. The employer or the SEC may have access to the home office to ensure health and safety with prior consent and employee notification. The employee can also request an inspection visit.
Security of information
Employers are responsible for their employee's data security, including when it is stored in data centers where they have no physical or legal control.
The National Commission of Informatics and Freedom (CNIL) lists the best practices for remote workers to protect the exchange of company and personal data at work:
- Make sure that the internet box is correctly configured
- Change passwords often and update the computer's internal software
- Activate the WPA2 or WPA3 encryption on the Wi-Fi
- Connect only to trusted networks and avoid shared access with third parties
- Favour the exchange of data through a VPN when possible
- Install an antivirus and firewall
- Avoid transmitting confidential data through consumer storage, online file sharing, collaborative editing, or messaging services
Employers must take all reasonable steps to ensure the employee's workstation is correctly set up, safe, comfortable and easy to use to reduce potential injuries as indicated in the health and safety measures. In turn, employees must care for their health and safety and follow any reasonable policies or directions their employer gives them.
An appropriate workstation will include the following:
- The right level of illumination, with both natural and artificial light sources not creating glare on the computer
- Sufficient lighting level for visual tasks without eye strain
- The right level of ventilation and thermal comfort
- Unobstructed exit path in case of emergencies, including electrical cords, uneven carpet, clutter
- Suitable storage for documents
Employees working from home must enjoy the same individual and collective rights as all employees. This includes access to training, respect for their private lives, health and safety at work, access to the company's social activities, union information, and social benefits, such as restaurant vouchers.
Employers must first inform employees if they want to set up a monitoring system for employees working from home, consult the Works Council (CSE), and meet the requirements imposed on personal data processing. A permanent monitoring of employees through constant surveillance or screen sharing and requiring employees to prove their presence behind the screen constantly is prohibited.
The 35 working hours per week must also be respected and daily and weekly resting hours, and overtime worked (overtime worked at the employer's request only).
Recommendations for employees working from home:
- Stretch and change posture often, and if possible, an alternate activity
- Check for a comfortable posture
- Don't do any lifting, pushing, or carrying type task beyond the physical capacity
- Keep wrists in a neutral (straight) position—not bent up or down
- Sitting posture is upright or slightly reclined, maintaining a slight hollow in the lower back
- Establish boundaries around work hours
- Schedule regular meetings and catch-ups with the team
- Go outdoors and exercise daily, if possible
The French government provides a free and anonymous toll-free number, "Listening, support and advice for teleworkers", 24 hours daily, for those who experience psychological difficulties related to teleworking during the Covid-19 lockdown - 0 800 13 00 00.