Stéphanie Le Men-Tenailleau participates in the IR Global Employment Working Virtual Series Home Work: The challenges of cross border remote working


What are the consequences for a business when an employee works from home on a semi-permanent basis, transferring their residence to another country?

In France, when employees decide to live and work in two different states, putting in place payroll in compliance with French and EU regulations and integrating this into French legislation can get very complicated for employers who are not used to international mobility. It means understanding social security and tax rules of another country and being able to combine them correctly with French law. Furthermore, we have two different systems of wage tax, depending on whether the person is resident or non-resident. It’s not the same system at the same rates, and not the same reporting obligations for the employer. Consequently, it’s crucial for a company to know whether the employee is a non-resident or a resident – and this also applies if the company is located outside France. It’s really about understanding these situations as they’re now clearly happening more. People and foreign companies need to see what their obligations are when the employee is either living or working in France.

Are there specific rules applicable to remote working
in your country? How do they apply to domestic and
foreign companies?

French rules regarding remote working are much stricter than other countries. We have had employment rules for some time regarding remote working, and obviously the current situation has not really changed the rules. But new agreements were signed at the end of last year giving more focus on the wellbeing of people working from home. The rules say that the remote person has to be voluntary – similar to that in Belgium. And I think it’s the same in the UK. Employees have the same rights, even if they work from home. The employer also has the right to determine the types of jobs that are eligible for remote working, so there are some rules saying that additional expenses for the employees have to be paid by the employer, but it does not say how much and what type of expenses. Consequently, there need to be good relations between the employer and the employee. The employer has to ensure health and safety, and that working time rules have been met. And also the right to have downtime from the employee side. Normally, the policy or the employment contract has to provide for times when the employer is allowed to call the employee and times when they’re barred from calling. Currently, employers who want to put in place remote working policies have to negotiate the with employees’ representatives. A lot of French companies have been working on such policies and negotiating with the workers representatives. I recently had a call from one of my correspondents in the UK saying they had a client, which is an international group, that wanted to implement a global remote working policy, starting with the UK. But with France it’s just not feasible because the wording is so different, although ultimately the rules, and the principles are the same. What I’ve heard is similar to France, but putting it all into policies and in the right wording in employment contracts seems to be very different.

Will companies have to provide new policies for remote
working? Will this include providing employees with the
necessary equipment and reimbursing costs related to
remote work?

Many French companies are currently working on new remote working policies, providing for necessary equipment or indemnities to allow employees to purchase such equipment. But the increasing trend of remote working will also have side effects. One thing that we’ve seen recently for French companies is that many people now want to live outside Paris or French big cities. Employees want to commute to Paris from other parts of France once or twice a week to work. And this is good, but normally you don’t pay the same salary to someone who lives in Paris and someone who lives outside Paris. These people want the same salary and also want the employers to pay for the commuting expenses. And this has a big impact on the package’s employers are prepared to give employees, because obviously you would not normally employ someone who does not live in Paris for a job in Paris. They will have to take everything into account and their compensation and benefits or compensation policy.

And this is something that will really change in the next very next months and years.