French law provides for civil and criminal liability of the management under certain conditions. We will not detail them here. Regarding the current crisis, some situations must be studied carefully considering the decisions taken by the government.

In application of article L. 4121-1 of the labor law code (code du travail), “The employer shall take the necessary measures to ensure the safety and protect the physical and mental health of workers.”

Consequently, the employer must comply with the confinement measures entered into force in France since March 16th: certain businesses, mainly places receiving the public (restaurants, theatres,…), are automatically closed. Employees should be on home office whenever possible.

Furthermore, the government issued a list of activities specifically authorized to be opened, mainly grocery stores and pharmacies.

Employers may face a liability if they do not comply with these strict opening rules.

Furthermore, for the workers who continue to work on-site, the employer should provide all the necessary protections.

Furthermore, an employee may exercise their right of withdrawal (droit de retrait) in the event they consider that their health is at risk if they continue to work on-site. The employer cannot discuss the qualification at the time of the request.

These obligations are considered by caselaw on asbestos as an obligation of result, as opposed to a less stringent regime that applies to obligations of means. Current lobbying actions are hoping to have them considered as only obligations of means considering the never heard of difficulty to of the current situation.

Disclaimer: Although this legal summary has been prepared with the utmost care, we do not assume any liability for the content being correct, complete and up to date. Our summary cannot replace legal advice in individual cases. We are at your disposal for specific legal advice.