French President Emmanuel Macron has signed five ordinances making important changes to several aspects of the French employment code. The ordinances, which were immediately published in the French Official Journal on September 23rd, 2017, are aimed in particular at providing employers more flexibility and predictability in labour-management relations.

Several provisions of this ambitious reform (the “Reform”) – numbering 159 pages and providing for 36 measures – are already in force.

Due to the significant amount of amendments to French employment regulation provided by the Reform, we have chosen to focus in our first article on the new regulations regarding homeworking. We will detail in later articles other main changes introduced by the Reform.

Ordinance n°2017-1386 defines homeworking as “any type of working organization in which missions which could also be performed on the premises of the employer are carried out by an employee outside the premises, on a voluntary basis by using information and communication technologies”.

Under the new Ordinance, homeworking is no longer required to be effected on a regular basis. In other words, as of September 24th 2017, employees may homework from time to time without any condition of having to do so at a predetermined frequency. Homeworking on an irregular basis must nevertheless be formalized in writing before occurring (e.g. exchange of email)

In the event that employees perform homework on a regular basis, the homeworking terms and conditions must be set out in a collective agreement entered into at company level. If no agreement is obtained, the employer can implement a homeworking policy, but only after consultation with the works council and the health and safety committee.

Such collective agreement/policy must provide in particular for :

  • the conditions of homeworking implementation and of return to a “usual” performance of the employment agreement (i.e. without homeworking);
  • conditions under which the employee agrees on homeworking implementation;
  • modalities of working time monitoring and workload regulation;
  • determination of the time slots during with the employer can usually contact the homeworker.

In addition, the ordinance provides that costs directly resulting from the homeworking implementation (e.g. electronic set up) shall no longer be reimbursed by the employer to the employee. However the underlying collective agreement/policy may provide for the conditions of indemnification for the costs directly triggered by homeworking.

The ordinance has also confirmed several principles previously provided under the French employment code. In particular, employers who have recourse to homeworking must take into account that homeworkers benefit equally from any rights granted to other employees, for example regarding employee representation and continuous training. Finally the ordinance implements a new presumption of working accident in the event that homeworkers suffer from an accident which occurs at their usual place of work and during the usual working period.

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