The eco brief. Immediate work stoppages due to Covid-19: towards uncontrolled absenteeism?

Work stoppage sheet. Illustrative photo. (VIANNEY SMIAROWSKI / FRANCE-BLEU CHAMPAGNE)

Anyone who has symptoms of Covid-19, or who is in contact, can register directly on the health insurance website to obtain immediate and compensated work stoppage. This measure announced by Prime Minister Jean Castex at the end of last week raises fears of abuse. The Confederation of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (CPME) was the first to react. According to the organization, this measure is likely to lead to a sharp increase in sick leaves with the consequence of uncontrolled absenteeism. A real fear for SMEs which have much more limited organizational capacities than large groups.

Small bosses believe that the measure announced by the Prime Minister amounts to establishing the automatic nature of the work stoppage in the event of the slightest supposed symptom, without any medical check-up or prior test, which is a source of possible abuse.

It is not a question of contesting employees’ right to be sick or to benefit from justified sick leaves, but the CPME asks the government to put in place a framework which will make it possible to avoid possible abuses. Especially since the procedure announced by Jean Castex provides for obtaining an immediate work stoppage without a waiting day (the period during which the arrested employee is not compensated by Social Security).

Faced with the concerns of small bosses, the Prime Minister’s services specify that any person presenting the symptoms of Covid-19 or being in contact will be required to take a test to extend the immediate work stoppage. In the event of a positive test, the sick leave will continue but in the event of a negative test, it will be immediately interrupted. As for Health Insurance, it will have to follow the employee concerned with two or three phone calls over seven days. Strict discipline necessary in the face of the evolution of the pandemic, according to Matignon, but which risks being considered as a new heavy administrative machine.

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