THE SITUATION OF COMPANIES IN FRANCE – TO AN IMPROVEMENT ON MAY 11TH?
ROTHPARTNERS – April 30, 2020
Because of the confinement measures taken to contain the Covid-19 epidemic, the situation of French companies is now worrying. In 2020, France will experience its worst year of economic recession since the end of the Second World War. Although the deconfinement is scheduled for May 11th, as announced on April 13th, its terms and conditions are still unclear at present. All sectors of the economy are impacted. Some, such as the restaurant, hotel, tourism, airline and automotive sectors are even harder hit. A large number of businesses, especially small independent companies, will have to close down, despite the aid granted by the State. On the other hand, other sectors manage to keep their activities at an almost normal pace, even if economic consequences cannot be excluded in the future, such as the gas and electricity industry, banks on the front line to cushion the shock or e-commerce. Globally, more than 10 million employees are currently on short-time working, i.e. more than one in two employees in the private sector, up to 93% in the construction sector, and 40%of them are teleworking. These figures can obviously be explained by the health situation and the impossibility for companies to continue their activity, but also by the closure of schools, forcing parents to look after their children. Within companies whose activity continues, health rules must be respected, but it is not the employer’s responsibility to guarantee the absence of any exposure of employees to risks, but to avoid them as much as possible and, if they cannot be avoided, to assess them regularly according to government recommendations, in order to then take all useful measures to protect the exposed workers. The main recommendation for companies is to telework their employees as much as possible and to avoid business trips in order to limit the spread of the virus. If the company’s activity does not allow it, the employer must then guarantee the safety of employees by rethinking the organisation of work. The employer is incumbent upon him to :
- assess the risks incurred in the workplace which cannot be avoided according to the nature of the work to be carried out
- determine, on the basis of this assessment, the most appropriate preventive measures
- respect and enforce the barrier gestures recommended by the health authorities, in particular to allow a distance of one metre between employees
- limit physical meetings to what is strictly necessary
- cancel or postpone non-essential trips