EMERGENCY MEASURES TAKEN BY THE GOVERNMENT TO HELP FRENCH COMPANIES DURING THE HEALTH CRISIS PERIOD
A set of decrees and ordinances have been issued in various legal fields (accounting, tax, social, company law) to help all companies to overcome the "coronavirus" crisis. We will try to summarize the most important ones below.
You can also consult the "Coronavirus News Feed" section published on our website through the menu at the top of the page, on which you will find more details. You can of course contact us to better understand their terms of application.
I - SOCIAL MEASURES
- Aid for the self-employed
All self-employed workers whose activity is suffering from the health crisis can benefit from exceptional financial assistance or the payment of their social security contributions. To be eligible for aid, they must:
- Have made at least one payment of contributions since their installation;
- Have been affiliated before January 1st 2020;
- Be significantly affected by measures to reduce or suspend activity.
To find out how to apply and the amount of this aid, you can consult the following chapter “FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE FOR BUSINESSES AND THE SELF-EMPLOYED” at the beginning of the Coronavirus page on our website.
The monthly due date for social contributions of April 5th 2020 was not levied for the self-employed and the liberal professions who opted for payment of contributions on the 5th of each month.
- Holidays and working hours
If a company collective agreement or, failing this, a branch agreement authorizes it, the employer may, under the conditions provided for in this agreement:
- Impose on employees the taking of paid vacation earned;
- Unilaterally modify the paid vacation dates already set.
The imposed or modified leave period may last up to December 31st 2020.
The collective agreement may also authorize the employer to split the main leave (4 weeks of summer) without having to obtain the employee's agreement.
- Unilateral fixing by the employer of the “RTT” and other days of rest
The employer may unilaterally arrange the taking of “RTT” days and certain other days of rest if "the interests of the company justify it having regard to the economic difficulties linked to the spread of covid-19".
The total number of days of rest that may be imposed or modified by the employer cannot exceed 10.
- Derogations specific to "essential business sectors"
Companies in "sectors of activity particularly necessary for the security of the Nation and for the continuity of economic and social life" may derogate from the maximum working hours within the following limits:
- Up to 12 hours of work per day, instead of 10 hours;
- Up to 60 hours of work per week, instead of 48 hours.
In addition, companies in "sectors of activity particularly necessary for the security of the Nation and for the continuity of economic and social life", to be defined by decree, may also derogate from the principle of Sunday rest and have employees work on Sundays.
- Partial activity
To help businesses overcome the decline in activity linked to the coronavirus epidemic and maintain jobs, the government has decided to facilitate the use of partial activity and improve the conditions for reimbursement of businesses.
- Simplified procedure: Usually the employer must consult the social and economic committee (CSE) on the use of partial activity, then send a request for partial activity authorization to the prefect of the department. In this period of exceptional circumstances, the employer can first practice the partial activity, then complete the required formalities. The company thus has a period of 30 days, from the placement of employees in partial activity to send its request.
Partial activity is compulsory for protected employees, the employer does not have to obtain their agreement.
Since March 26th 2020, the partial activity authorization can be granted for a maximum duration of 12 months. Until December 31st 2020, the administration responds within 2 days. The silence of the administration at the end of this period implies tacit acceptance.
- Reimbursement: The employer will receive a partial activity allowance of 70% of the remuneration up to a limit of 4.5 times the minimum wage.
II - DELAY REPORTS
- Period of application of the derogating rules
Exceptional provisions are put in place for the deadlines and measures which have expired or which expire between March 12th 2020 and the expiration of a period of 1 month from the date of termination of the state of emergency.
- Acts and formalities concerned
The derogating rule applies to acts, formalities, remedies, legal actions, registrations, declarations, notifications or publication.
- The modified contractual rules
- Tacit termination and renewal clauses;
- Penalties, resolutory clauses, penal clauses;
- Rent and expenses of the most fragile companies: if they cannot pay the rents and rental charges (water, gas, electricity) of their professional premises, the small businesses most affected by the crisis will not incur financial penalties or late interest, damages, etc.;
- Co-ownership trustee contracts: co-ownership contracts that expire or have expired during the legally protected period are renewed in the same terms until the new contract designated by the next general meeting of co-owners takes effect;
- Automatic extension of permits and approvals.
- Social Security
The time periods after which a decision, agreement or opinion on their part may and which have not expired before March 12th 2020 are, on this date, suspended until the end of the period mentioned above.
- Tax rules
Any act, declaration, notification that could not have been accomplished from March 12th 2020 until the end of the expiration of a period of one month from the date of cessation of the state of health emergency benefits from a derogation period.
These time extensions do not concern tax declarations.
In matters of tax control, the deadlines for resumption of administration and other procedural deadlines are suspended from March 12th 2020 until the expiration of the period of one month from the date of cessation of the state of health emergency.
- Various delays
- In the area of company law, delays in the presentation and approval of accounts have been postponed;
- In social matters, there is a postponement of the deadline for payment of the participation and profit-sharing. The deadline for payment or allocation is postponed to December 31st 2020.
Employers with 50 or more employees can postpone up to 3 months, without penalty, all or part of the payment of their URSSAF contributions by the deadline of April 5th 2020.
III - COMPANY LAW, AUDIT
During the health emergency period, the rules for convening, informing, meeting and deliberating assemblies as well as the management bodies of companies are adapted to enable them to continue their missions.
These adjustments concern all legal persons and other entities governed by private law (civil and commercial companies, economic interest groups, associations).
- Assemblies and management bodies concerned
The measures relate particularly to:
- General meetings of shareholders or partners;
- Special meetings and mass meetings of bondholders;
- The deliberations of the collegiate bodies of administration, supervision or management.
- The measures of the ordinance
- Prior information to associates: this communication can be done in a paperless manner provided that the associate indicates his email address in his request;
- Possibility of holding meetings in camera;
- Possibility of holding a conference call or audiovisual.
Many other measures have been taken, such as:
- The early reimbursement of corporate tax claims (before filing tax documents);
- Accelerated processing of requests for reimbursement of VAT credits.
Other measures relate to specific professional sectors, and on this point, you can also refer to the information "Coronavirus News Feed" section published on our website through the menu at the top of the page.