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Summer 2021: Entrepreneur’s Survival Kit

For a majority of entrepreneurs, the summer period is a good time to get up to speed and deal with issues that were neglected due to lack of time during the rest of the year. This is even more true following the year of unprecedented crisis that has put the leaders of VSEs/SMEs to a severe test. Changes in working conditions and democratization of telecommuting, accumulation of paid vacations, evolution of health and safety records, etc… In addition to the traditional social, tax and accounting obligations imposed on managers each year, the crisis has added a series of consequences and regulatory or non-regulatory changes that company managers must face. What are the obligations of managers not to forget during the summer?

Reconciling telework and the right to disconnect

The June 9, 2021 announcements put an end to many restrictive measures (reopening of restaurants, gyms…). At the same time, managers and their employees have seen their working conditions evolve further. Until then, teleworking was the rule in companies whose activity allowed it. Today, company management and employee representatives must determine a minimum number of telework days for each employee. However, with the variations, the situation is changing and it is difficult to say what the obligations will be in the fall. In any case, for many companies that have “tried” telework, is a return to a pre-crisis 100% face-to-face organization possible? The summer can and should be a time to reflect on such a long-term structuring issue.

Especially since if telework is imposed in whole or in part, it is a whole regulation that needs to be adapted, especially in order to ensure employees’ right to disconnect, which came into force on January 1, 2017 in the Labor Code (art. L.2242-17). In practical terms, employees are not required to be permanently contactable by their employer outside of their working hours. This right aims to guarantee a balance between professional and personal life, to ensure the respect of rest periods and vacations, and finally to protect the health of the employee by virtue of the employer’s safety obligation towards his employees.
In the absence of an agreement, the employer is required to draw up a charter with the opinion of the CSE aimed at defining the terms and conditions for exercising this right and setting out some good practices: instructions not to answer emails or phone calls, avoid sending emails outside working hours, determine fixed working hours, etc. According to a Harris Interactive survey, 42% of employees think it is essential to communicate more about the right to disconnect so that telecommuting is a good experience.

Managing the accumulation of paid time off

The confines and limitations of travel have naturally limited the amount of time employees in France have taken off in recent months. While the summer should provide an opportunity to “purge” some of the untaken leave, the period may not be sufficient and the resumption of work will be difficult.While the summer should allow for the “purging” of some of the untaken leave, the period may not be sufficient and the resumption of activity in the autumn should make it difficult to take further leave between now and Christmas. In order to assist companies in their recovery, an ordinance has been passed to make the conditions for granting paid leave and time off by the employer more flexible. Since March 2020 and until September 15, 2021, the employer can impose or modify the dates of paid vacations within the limit of 6 working days, with a 24-hour notice period, compared to 1 month under normal circumstances. The employer may also split the vacations without prior agreement, or even refuse to grant identical vacations to married or civil union couples working in the same company. These possibilities can create a lot of tension, which should obviously be avoided. It is up to the employer to anticipate the order of departures and to communicate with his employees in order to ensure the continuity of the activity while taking care of the well-being of his employees.

Heat wave, social obligations, cookies… other obligations not to be forgotten!

Every year, the number of employees in a company may change. This is an opportunity to take stock of the obligations and social declarations that this implies: new declaration obligations (declaration of employment of disabled workers, single document of risk assessment…), new contributions (participation in continuing professional training, transport mobility payment…) or even the setting up of a CSE (mandatory for companies with more than 11 employees).

In addition, in this ever-present context of health crisis combined with the risk of hot summer spellsthe manager must more than ever be able to “take the necessary measures to ensure the safety and protect the health of employees” (art.L4121-1 of the Labor Code). This is therefore a good time to make sure that the health and safety registers are up to date, and even to anticipate the means to be put in place in case of high temperatures (ventilation, provision of water fountains, teleworking policy…). In the event of serious and imminent danger, and if no measures are taken to ensure the safety of employees, the latter may exercise their right to withdraw.

Finally, since April 1, 2021, the CNIL has issued new regulations regarding the use of cookies by companies on their websites. Those who have not yet made their website compliant are exposed to sanctions by the CNIL, which has made this one of its priority control themes for 2021.

This is an opportunity for managers to review all of their company’s legal documentation (terms and conditions, privacy policy, cookie policy, commercial documents, etc.). A solid legal arsenal is a guarantee of protection and credibility in the eyes of customers and employees, and constitutes a real added value for the company.

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