“Today, a text is missing which can be taken very simply and which would make telework compulsory with an extremely dissuasive criminal sanction”, lamented Wednesday March 24 on franceinfo Gérald Le Corre, CGT representative of the Ministry of Labor and labor inspector, while the Ministry of Labor published a new health protocol on Tuesday which urges companies to put in place “Action plan” to encourage teleworking. But the executive refuses to include this obligation in the Labor Code.
franceinfo: How can we force companies to put more employees into teleworking?
Gerald Le Corre: The telework rate is much lower than during the first confinement, even between November and today, there are even more employees who remain at their workstations. In any case, this is what goes back all over France. For a fairly simple reason: this is because, contrary to what the various ministers and Mrs Borne repeat over and over again, teleworking is not compulsory today. A text that is mandatory is in the Labor Code, a text that says a precise measure to be taken on a risk, for example, and therefore there, a Covid risk and a text that provides for a criminal sanction in the event of no -application. So, over the past year, we have seen dozens and dozens of ordinances on all subjects, but no ordinance makes the implementation of the various protocols developed by the General Directorate of Labor obligatory.
The state is not firm enough with businesses?
No, the state protects itself in some way with a number of speeches if there are ever complaints in a few years from Covid victims in the workplace for the state to say: ‘Look! We took action. We have 10, 20, 30 speeches from ministers saying what to do. ‘ But in practice, teleworking is not compulsory, there are no penal sanctions for companies that do not implement it. And from that point of view, all the lawyers you can consult – lawyers who defend trade unions like those who defend the Medef or the CGPM – will have the same analysis as us. That is to say that today, there is a lack of a text which can be taken very simply and which would make telework compulsory with an extremely dissuasive criminal sanction.
What can you do on the ground?
First, it’s a lot of reminders. The latest results of the Institut Pasteur survey, whose competence nobody questions, speak of 29% of contamination in the workplace. So there is an urgent need to act. So, a penal text today is possible, that said that will lead to distant sanctions since the justice takes time effectively to treat this type of file. On the other hand, there is another solution, today, labor inspectors have an extremely strong power but in an extremely limited field in terms of exposure to asbestos, falls from heights or electrical risks. The labor inspector who makes a finding can in less than fifteen minutes take a decision to suspend the activity to protect the employees while a solution is found.
“If Mr. Macron and Ms. Borne had the real political will, they could take an order which would specify that the non-respect of the protocol of the DGT gives the right to the labor inspectors, in the event of lack of telework, absence of masks, non-compliance with barrier gestures or lack of decontamination, to temporarily suspend the activity. “Gérald Le Corre, CGT representative of the Ministry of Labor and labor inspector
And, in general, once the activity is suspended, I can tell you that employers, both small and large companies, comply with the demands of the labor inspection services. So it’s a lack of political will.