To prevent/limit the spread of COVID-19 and protect so-called vulnerable employees (older employees, pregnant employees, employees already suffering from medical conditions, etc.), a solution is available to employers where possible: teleworking, enabling employees to carry out their work from home.
In general and at all times, the employer must ensure the health and safety of employees in the workplace, and must take all necessary measures in this respect.
In the current exceptional context of the fight against COVID-19 and the government’s recommendations to encourage the use of telecommuting, while the duration of this measure will be limited to this crisis, the employer can impose telecommuting on its employees as a preventive measure when their duties allow it.
On the other hand, the employer is not obliged to accept the request of an employee who, for fear of COVID-19 alone, wishes to telework. Nevertheless, in this case, in view of the general obligation of the employer towards his employees, the refusal by the employer must necessarily be justified by the needs of the company.
Telecommuting must be formalized between employer and employee.
Under normal circumstances, this will be done by means of a rider signed by the employee and the employer, or by any other written agreement, with consultation of the staff delegation (if any).
However, the Employees’ Chamber points out that, given the current exceptional circumstances, the introduction of teleworking within the company requires only the agreement of the staff delegation (if any), with the employer then simply having to notify employees in writing of the introduction.
In the end, it is certain that the employee will have to work for the employer within the framework of telecommuting, and that the employer will continue to be responsible for the employee’s remuneration.
To enable employees to telework, the employer must provide them with all the technical means to do so (a computer, a cell phone, a printer, etc.), while ensuring their installation and maintenance, with technical support available to the employee when needed.
When, exceptionally, the employee uses his or her own equipment to telework, the employer must ensure that it is maintained and suitable for the work to be carried out, as well as providing the aforementioned technical support.
Of course, in the event of malfunction or breakdown of these technical means, the employee must immediately notify the employer, who must then intervene promptly to remedy the situation and enable the employee to continue working from home.
In any case, the employer must bear the costs directly linked to teleworking (electricity, internet connection, wear and tear on the employee’s personal computer equipment if this is the case, any purchases by the employee of a printer and ink refills, etc.).
It is also important to note that, when teleworking, the employer must protect personal data and professional secrecy against, in particular, the risk of computer fraud and corruption.
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