France - French labour law - Staff representation (representation du personnel) and Covid-19: 5 questions and answers on employers' obligations (part 2) CHHUM AVOCATS (Paris, Nantes, Lille)

On February 28th, 2020, the Ministry of Labor (Ministre du Travail) published a question and answer for companies and employees regarding the context of the Covid-19.

Several updates have since taken place in order to take into account the development of the health situation and government measures, in particular with regard to collective bargaining.

1) What role for the CSE in the context of Covid-19?

The social and economic committee must be a major player in the company in crisis situations, especially health.

In fact, the CSE must be informed and consulted, in particular, on questions relating to the organization of work, to any arrangement that may modify the working conditions, health or safety of workers.

The Ministry of Labor therefore recalls that the CSE must be consulted in the following situations:

- Modification of the work organization;

- Use of partial activity;

- Derogations in terms of working hours and rest time.

In addition, employee representatives can request a meeting of the CSE in the event of matters relating to health, safety or working conditions, or in the presence of an employee exercising their right of withdrawal.

2) Can the CSE meet during a confinement period?

If the CSE meetings are not prohibited by the Ministry of Labor, it is still recommended to:

- Limit meetings to urgent ones, in particular with regard to legislative or contractual deadlines;

- Respect the barrier gestures and distance rules.

The Ministry of Labor recalls that these meetings can be included in authorized derogatory trips (exercise of activities which cannot be organized in the form of telework).

However, it is strongly recommended to use remote meetings as soon as possible.

3) Collective bargaining and Covid-19

Collective bargaining presupposes respect for a principle of loyalty: all the parties to the negotiation are convened and, unless one party refuses to participate, negotiation can only take place in the presence of the different parties.

In the context of Covid-19, the Ministry of Labor recalls that collective bargaining can take place by videoconference or audioconference.

In addition, electronic signatures can be used to sign collective agreements.

This electronic signature must however meet certain requirements in order to guarantee the identity of the signatory and the security of the device.

These requirements, provided for by European regulation n ° 910-2014 and article 1367 of the Civil Code are recalled by the Ministry of Labor in the Questions / (https://travail-emploi.gouv.fr/actualites/l-actualite-du-ministere/article/coronavirus-questions-reponses-pour-les-entreprises-et-les-salaries )

If necessary, the Ministry of Labor recalls the possibility of manually signing the agreements:

- Either by printing the agreement and signing it;

- Either by receiving it by courier or mail.

In both cases, the parties can digitize or take a picture of their copy and transmit it electronically, the agreement then being made up of all the copies signed by each party.

The Ministry of Labor suggests favoring the written mandate from one union organization to another (employee or employer).

4) Branch negotiation and Covid-19

In terms of branch negotiations, the arrangements for filing agreements have been adapted as a result of the Covid-19.

Thus, the branches file in priority on their agreement electronically at the address depot.accord@travail.gouv.fr, mentioning in the subject line "Covid-19 ordinance agreement".

Branches must also attach a scanned and signed version of the agreement.

The paper deposit of the agreement may be made later but the date of registration will be that of electronic submission.

5) What about consulting employees during an epidemic?

Companies with fewer than 11 employees without a union representative, or companies with 11 to 20 employees without elected CSE members can propose collective agreement projects.

In this case, employee consultation must take place.

In order to avoid any gathering or displacement of employees, the companies concerned can set up remote voting.

The remote voting system then put in place must then guarantee the secrecy of the vote and the voter registration.

Frédéric CHHUM avocat et membre du conseil de l’ordre des avocats de Paris (mandat 2019-2021)

CHHUM AVOCATS (Paris, Nantes, Lille)

e-mail: chhum@chhum-avocats.com



.Paris: 4 rue Bayard 75008 Paris tel: 0142560300

.Nantes: 41, Quai de la Fosse 44000 Nantes tel: 0228442644

.Lille: 25, rue Gounod 59000 Lille tel: 0320135083


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