Company Health Protocol: 29 January 2021 version

Replacing the health protocol of 6 January 2021, which itself replaced a number of versions developed since the beginning of the health crisis, the company health protocol of 29 January 2021 continues to adapt to the evolution of the epidemic and to organise life in companies in this particular context.

The major developments in a few questions:

Can employees continue to wear their cloth masks sewn by their grandmother ?

No! Unless their grandmother owns a certified category 1 mask factory, home-made masks and category 2 masks are now prohibited in the workplace. Indeed, these are considered as not filtering enough and unsuitable for the virus variants.

Only category 1 masks and surgical masks are now allowed in the workplace.

You should therefore remind employees of this rule, asking them to put away their masks with the most beautiful patterns sewn by grandma. As a reminder, the employer must provide the necessary protective equipment for the employee to ensure their health and safety, which means that you must provide them with surgical masks or category 1 fabric masks if your employees work on the company premises.

If you have already provided fabric masks (sometimes with nice company logos) to your employees, you should ensure that these masks are category 1 masks.

FFP2 masks are reserved primarily for health care personnel.

Do I always have to take out my tape measure to check that employees keep a distance of one metre between them?

You even have to use two tapes.

Indeed, the distance between employees is increased to 2 metres (instead of 1 metre) when wearing a mask is not possible (catering time, changing rooms, etc.).

Is teleworking mandatory again?

Trick question: it always has been.

In the protocol of 29 January 2021, as in the previous ones, the instruction remains the same: telework is the rule, and all employees whose tasks are 100% teleworkable have the obligation to telework. 

Nevertheless, and even if the notions of preserving the collective link and the risk of isolation put forward last time no longer appear expressly, employees still have the possibility of visiting the company’s premises once a week if they so request. This arrangement should be preserved, even if the government’s objective is clearly to re-mobilise companies that have gradually given up on telework by allowing their employees return to their place of work. 

Please note: the conviviality moments are suspended.

I ventilate my premises all the time to avoid the risk of contamination, but the employees complain about the cold. Can I invoke the health protocol to keep the windows open?

Ventilation of closed premises is important to combat the risks of contamination by allowing air exchange, but leaving windows open in the middle of winter could expose employees to another risk: the cold, and the risk of making them more fragile and exposing them more to the diseases they would come into contact with (covid-19 and others).

The health protocol of 29 January 2021 recommends airing the premises for a few minutes every hour, and follows the recommendations of the opinion of the French High Council for Public Health, complementary to the opinion of 14 January on measures to control and prevent the spread of new variants of SARS-CoV-2, which particularly decides on measures in the health care environment.

In this respect, the recommendation has changed since it previously recommended 15 minutes of ventilation every 3 hours.

In conclusion, you cannot force employees who complain about the cold to work with the window open all the time in the middle of winter, but simply air out a few minutes every hour.

We remain at your disposal to answer any other questions you may have

Cécile Demars, Sophie Gabaron & Delphine Ricard