With the swift development of telework due to the curent health crisis, companies may want to implement telework, even without exceptional circumstances, in order to better manage office space and to accommodate employees’ inclination for a better balance between work and personal life.
In France, the French Employment Code and the Supreme Court’s case law govern the conditions under which telework may be implemented and performed.
Article L.1222-9 of the French Employment Code provides that telework should be implemented primarily through a company collective agreement, negotiated and concluded according to the terms set by French labour law or through a unilateral policy implemented by the employer. This allows standardized rules across the company.
Where such agreement or policy is not implemented, article L.1222-9 allows for an agreement with the individual employees upon the terms and conditions of telework. The agreement is materialised by provisions included in the employment contracts or contractual addenda.
Regardless of the way the terms and conditions are set, mandatory statutory provisions should be provided for, including the means used to monitor the working time , the time slots within which the employee may be contacted, and under which conditions telework may be ended.
To be noted: once telework has been agreed upon, it becomes an essential term of employment which can only be ended by agreement of the parties.
Costs incurred by teleworkers
The French Supreme Court considers that professional expenses incurred by teleworkers should be reimbursed by the employer.
Besides any IT equipment that the employees may need to perform their work – which should be provided by the employer – other expenses should also be taken into account, such as electricity, heating, internet and phone subscriptions. These may be reimbursed either on the basis of amounts actually incurred by the employee or compensated with a fixed allowance. The French Social Security administration (URSSAF) states that such allowance may be exempted from any social security contributions up to €2.50 per day of telework, with a monthly cap of €55.
Where the employer imposes telework as standard working conditions, the French Supreme Court also requires the employer to pay the employee an allowance, in order to indemnify the employee for the use of part of their home as a working space. This allowance may be incorporated into the overall remuneration under the condition that it is clearly stated in the employment agreement.
Alexandra Frelat and Maxime Kempf
Employment law lawyers with MGG Voltaire assist foreign companies on daily concerns and strategic operations.