The Order of 25 March 2020 defined the emergency measures concerning paid holidays, working hours and rest days.
Employers will automatically be allowed to derogate from the rules on working hours, weekly rest and Sunday rest after consulting with labour representatives in certain sectors (agri-foodstuffs, retail trade, businesses contributing to hospitals’ activity) that are particularly critical for national security or the continuity of economic and social life.
For example: Sunday working, working an average of 46 hours a week, rather than 44 hours, over 12 weeks, or even, in exceptional cases, working up to 60 hours per week, while complying with statutory time off and increasing overtime pay.
The issue of paid holidays calls for a distinction between:
- The number of holiday days, which cannot be changed. Paid holidays are an essential labour right that cannot be called into question under any circumstances.
- The procedures for taking paid holidays, which remains a prerogative of the employer. The Labour Code requires four weeks’ notice in normal times. The Emergency Act reduces this notice period, but only for up to six business days of paid leave.
As regards paid holidays, the Order enables employers to impose or change employees’ paid holidays for periods up to six business days throughout the health emergency. However, this option is subject to the negotiation of a company-level agreement or an industry-wide agreement.
Employers may unilaterally require employees to take or change working-time reduction (RTT) days, rest days under the terms of a contract with a fixed number of days and rest days under a work-time savings plan, without needing to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement. The minimum notice period of one clear day still applies. The total number of days of rest that employers may require employees to take or change may not be more than ten.Le
nombre total de jours de repos dont l’employeur peut imposer au salarié la
prise ou dont il peut modifier la date ne peut être supérieur à dix.
The general principle to be followed for these possible adjustments to working conditions is as much consultation as possible with the social and economic council using videoconferencing, for example. Labour-management dialogue, even at a distance, must be maintained during this difficult time for businesses.