13 March 2020

With a view to containing the spreading of the coronavirus in France, quarantine and isolation may become an issue involving also your French employees. This newsletter is destined to inform foreign employers of the situations they may face and the measures the French government has introduced to cope with such situation and alleviate the impact on the workplace.


Any gatherings of more than 1.000 attendants are currently prohibited until April 15 (down from more than 5.000 previously), except for demonstrations, public transport and specific events considered “useful for the life of the nation” (list to be dressed by the prefects and ministries).

More restrictive rules apply to the clusters Oise and Haut-Rhin.  A decree in the Haut-Rhin department prohibits any events with more than 50 attendants in a confined space until March 19, whereas in the Oise department, any collective gathering is prohibited from March 1 to March 14, 2020.

Moreover, all schools from nursery up to college are locked down in both of these departments for two weeks starting March 9.


Supportive measures with a view to mitigating the economic consequences of the outbreak on companies:

  • Deadline extensions for the payment of social contribution and/or taxes (URSSAF, tax authorities)
    • the impacted companies can send a request by simple email before the next payment deadline due on March 15
  • In very tough situations, remission of direct taxes, upon individualized checking of the request
  • Rescheduling of the debt with the help of the State and the French central bank, the Banque de France
  • Securing credit lines by way of a cashflow guarantee of the Bpifrance
  • Assistance in handling disputes with clients or suppliers via a company intermediary
  • Acknowledgement of the Coronavirus as “force majeure” for the French state’s public procurement, thus no penalties for late payment apply in such cases
  • Simplified and enhanced short-time working arrangements in relation with the outbreak, for example:
    • administrative closure of the plant,
    • drop in the business activity due to the outbreak (Problems in supply, cancelling of orders etc.),
    • (massive) absence of employees due to infection or quarantine, jeopardizing the ongoing of the business activity, short-time work for the remaining employees,
    • administrative suspension of the public transports: short-time work for the employees hindered to reach their work place.

The short-time allowance is increased to the level of the net minimum wage in France. The DIRECCTE shall answer the requests for short-time work within 48 hours compared to the usual deadline of 15 days.

  • Instead of short-time working arrangements the impacted companies may introduce training programs via the FNE-Formation to enhance their employees’ skills.


The measures which may be applicable to be implemented in the companies are analyzed on a case to case basis by the relevant regional DIRECCTE.


Seidel Avocats – Newsletter Coronavirus February 2020