With the pandemic, employers have the option to impose teleworking. But should they in return reimburse all the expenses of their employees? Can they benefit from exemptions?
In November 2020, during the second confinement, the Ministry of Labor noted that 45% of private sector employees had teleworked, including 23% full-time. This was reflected in particular by an increase in the average number of teleworking days: 3.7 days. This level has fallen considerably since.
The government is therefore striving to encourage companies to develop it more strongly, especially among micro-businesses and SMEs. Since March, the ministry has offered them a guide to help them adopt teleworking.
Teleworking would cost 100 Euros on averageBut doesn't this practice mean higher costs for managers, which would slow down the use of remote work? A teleworker, to be efficient and work in good conditions, needs suitable equipment and services, the first of which is an internet connection.
How much does telework cost? It costs 100 Euros per average person, according to a study by ConvictionsRH. Are these costs the sole responsibility of the employee? It's a bit complicated in practice.
What about the computer equipment already. For many reasons, including safety, employers are strongly recommended to provide this material to their employees. In the emergency, many of them were able to use their personal computers at first.
"If the employer requires you to telecommute, he must provide you with a computer if you do not have one, or if you do not want to use your personal computer," the Ministry of Labor states in a note. Teleworking must not create inequalities between employees, including with regard to meal vouchers and the cost of transport tickets.
A teleworking allowance is not compulsoryHowever, the employer is not required to provide all the equipment or to pay compensation that would cover the various costs related to teleworking, such as internet subscription or electricity. Ordinance No. 2017-1387 of September 22, 2017 frees the company from any obligation in this area.
"The employer is not required to pay his employee a teleworking allowance intended to reimburse him for the costs arising from teleworking, unless the company has an agreement or a charter which provides for it", recalls in this capacity the Ministry of Labor.
Employers, unions and employees must therefore refer to the provisions of the teleworking agreement or the previously defined charter. However, such agreements were non-existent in a large majority of companies before the first lockdown. In addition, these agreements must be reviewed. They were not responding to an emergency or to the spread of telework.
In November 2020, the unions signed a draft agreement on teleworking. For example, it stipulates that the costs "must be borne" by the employer but which ones? The employers do not detail the list of these costs. It is up to everyone to negotiate them with the staff representatives. In the event of payment of a flat-rate allowance, it must be exempt from social contributions, recommend the organizations.
Regular teleworking? The employer covers the costsIn other words, internet costs, electricity, heating, mobile plan, etc. may remain the responsibility of the teleworker, in the absence of a specific agreement by charging the support by the company. Nevertheless, the latter has many obligations, as the justice and URSSAF retain. The Court of Cassation has considered, on several occasions, that “professional expenses incurred by the employee must be borne by the employer” but this, in the absence of a professional room.
Going to court to settle the issue of costs is probably not the most beneficial way for the social climate. It is therefore better to refer to the URSSAF position. "If the telework is carried out regularly, the employer covers the costs directly caused by this work, in particular those related to communications," she points out.
In the context of the pandemic, "if the employer is able to justify with certainty the number of hours of connection devoted to the exercise of their professional activity by his employees in a telework situation, the support by his care of the cost of the subscription in proportion to the connection time linked to professional use may be exempt from social contributions, regardless of this professional time”.
More generally, the company can also claim an exemption in the event of payment of a lump sum allowance. Ceilings are fixed nevertheless: 10 Euros per month for an employee carrying out one day of teleworking per week (then 20 Euros and 30 Euros for two and three days of telework, and up to 50 Euros).
Exemptions and refunds, however, cover what is strictly necessary. Double screen, laptop booster and other useful accessories for comfort remain accessories. But labor law specifies that employers are required to ensure the ergonomics of the installations and the adaptation of the equipment. The long-term solution therefore consists, if teleworking is to be established over time, in defining a contractual agreement between the employer and its employees.