CORONAVIRUS: Content of the government’s Social Law Ordinances

Laetitia Ternisien , Eva Kopelman

After the publication in the Journal Officiel of the Law “emergency to deal with the Covid-19 epidemic”, the Government presented, Wednesday in the Council of Ministers, 25 ordinances and several decrees to deal with this health and economic crisis. These texts were published in the Official Gazette of 26 March 2020 and are therefore applicable.

We present here the various measures adopted in Labour Law.

The entire employment law team of the firm remains at your disposal to answer your questions.



Decree n°2020-325 of 25 March 2020 facilitates the use of partial activity for all companies.

As a reminder, the employee benefits from an indemnity payable by the employer, corresponding to a percentage of his or her gross salary (70% of gross hourly pay), for all hours off work up to the legal weekly limit of 35 hours.

To accompany the payment of this indemnity, the employer receives an allowance from the State for each hour off.

With this decree, the Government is aligning the methods for calculating this allowance with those applicable to the compensation due to employees and is therefore eliminating the remainder to be borne by the company, for any remuneration below 4.5 SMIC (i.e. a monthly amount of 6,927.53 euros).

This text also relaxes the procedure for filing applications for partial activities. Undertakings may submit their applications within 30 days of the start of the period requested, where the request is justified by exceptional circumstances. The time limit for express or tacit acceptance by the Administration is reduced to 48 hours.

The employer now has a period of two months to consult the Social and Economic Committee and to transmit this opinion to the administration.

This mechanism is extended to employees with a fixed-price agreement and to sales representatives.

Partial activity authorisation may be granted for a maximum period of 12 months.


A company or branch agreement may allow the employer to impose or modify the dates of part of the paid leave within the limit of 6 working days, by derogating from the periods of notice and the procedures for taking such leave defined by the Labour Code and by the collective agreements and conventions applicable in the company.

In addition, the employer may unilaterally impose or modify, within a limit of 10 days, the dates of RTT days, days provided for in flat-rate agreements and rest days allocated to the employee’s time savings account, by derogating from the notice periods and terms of use defined by the code or by a collective agreement.

The employer must, however, respect a notice period of at least one entire day.


Companies in sectors “particularly necessary for the security of the nation or the continuity of economic and social life” may derogate from the rules on working time and daily and weekly rest periods, and the maximum daily rest period may be extended to 12 hours.

The maximum weekly rest period may be increased to 60 hours or 48 hours if calculated over a 12-week period, and the daily rest period may be reduced to 9 consecutive hours, subject to the granting of compensatory rest equal to the amount of rest which the employee has not been able to take. For night work, the maximum daily rest period is also set at 12 hours, subject to the granting of a compensatory rest equal to the excess time.

The companies concerned may also derogate from the Sunday rest rule. A future decree will specify the companies concerned.

The employer who makes use of at least one of these derogations shall inform the Social and Economic Committee and the DIRECCTE without delay and by any means.


Companies in sectors “particularly necessary for the security of the nation or the continuity of economic and social life” may derogate from the rules on working hours and daily and weekly rest periods.

The one-year seniority condition, provided for in Article L.1226-1 of the Labour Code, is no longer necessary to obtain the supplementary sickness benefit.

In addition, employees working at home, seasonal employees, intermittent employees and temporary employees are no longer excluded from this scheme.

The 7-day waiting period set in Article D 1226-3 of the French Labor Code no longer applies since March 5, 2020 (decree no. 2020-193 of March 4, 2020).

For those who are on sick leave in the context of the covid-19 epidemic (including those who are subject to isolation, eviction or home-care measures), employees considered vulnerable who are unable to telework, as well as those who are parents of a child under the age of 16 whose school is closed, and who are unable to continue working), the maintenance of salary is no longer subject to the respect of a 48-hour period to justify stopping work, nor to a condition of territoriality of care.


Exceptionally, companies will have until December 31, 2020 to pay the amounts relating to vested rights under the profit-sharing and incentive schemes for the year 2019.