How to deal with a reduction of business during COVID-19 pandemic ? Can I impose a reduction of working time to my employees ?
Downtiming can be used by companies who face a drecrease of activity or if they cannot organize the activity in a way to prevent contacts (either by working from home or by organizing social distancing in the workplace).
An authorization shall be requested online : https://activitepartielle.emploi.gouv.fr/aparts/
Foreign companies without a permanent establishment in France can now benefit from this system, provided that their employees work under a contract subject to French law and they pay social contributions in France.
The deadline to file a request to cover the period since mid-March is the 30th of April. Otherwise, it shall be filed within the month of starting downtiming. Without any refusal from the State within 48 hours, the authorization is granted.
It allows the employer to pay 70% of the average gross remuneration for each hour which has not been performed due to the reduction of activity, and to be reimbursed of this amount by the State.
Reduced contributions apply to this sum, which means that employees receive around 84% of their average net remuneration.
If the company has staff representatives, the latter shall be consulted on the implementation of downtiming and their opinion shall be sent to the Administration within 2 months following the request.
One important condition is that all employees working in the same working unit are treated the same way : downtiming cannot be applied to only one person, or with a variable way from one person to another, unless we can explain that they do not work in the same working unit, or that the difference is justified by a specific experience. In the latter case, then those explanation shall be represented to the staff representatives, who shall agree with it. Another option is to conclude a company collective agreement.
If those conditions are not met, the company may be requested to pay the money back to the State in case of a control, which could happen in the next years.