can my employer force me to come to work?

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can my employer force me to come to work?





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Faced with the coronavirus epidemic, teleworking is now legion in France. What about employers refusing to set it up? How can workers respond? Our legal columnist, Roland Perez, answered questions from auditors from Europe 1.


Faced with the epidemic of coronavirus, all companies in France are strongly encouraged by the government to favor telework for all their employees. When this is not possible, and the tasks performed cannot be interrupted, employers must ensure that employees have a healthy and safe working environment.

But what happens if an employee considers that his health is not guaranteed at his place of work, or that his task is ridiculous compared to the risks incurred while leaving his home? Who should he talk to? Our legal columnist, Roland Perez, responds to auditors in Europe 1.

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Melanie’s question

Can I denounce my employer if he does not set up teleworking for everyone who can theoretically work from home?

Roland Perez’s response

All employees have what is called a “right of alert”. He exercises himself on behalf of all the employees of the company placed in this same situation. In this case, the employee alerts the Social and Economic Committee that may exist in the company, or the Labor Inspectorate.

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With the exception of activities which cannot absolutely be carried out by telework, and those which are essential for the social and economic survival of the country, all employment must be held at a distance at this time. If telework is not set up when it could be, the right to alert can be exercised.

Mary’s question

I work in a pastry shop. I’m staying home this week to babysit, but I’m supposed to go to work on Saturday. I don’t think it’s a necessity, and wonder if I should go.

Roland Perez’s response

The employer must guarantee the safety, hygiene and health of workers. If he has put on protective gloves, if the distances are respected between sellers and customers, and if Marie can take regular breaks to wash her hands, her right of withdrawal will be difficult to exercise.

However, this is a perfectly legitimate concern. The health crisis evolves every day, and the fear of the French with it. But the right of withdrawal is an individual right: it is assessed on a case-by-case basis. If the employee decides to exercise it, he must notify his employer upstream and possibly discuss it with occupational medicine. It will thus be necessary to determine whether there is an “imminent” danger, as defined by the labor code.

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