“Episodes of heat waves are increasing, which means taking them into account. Since 2003, there has been a lot of progress in terms of communication on the part of the government: the development of posters, notices to guide companies in good practices, the measures to be taken, etc.
From an orange alert launched by Météo France, the legislation imposes measures: offering compulsory access to drinking and fresh water, ensuring a moderate temperature in the premises… The law is stricter for workers who carry out physical tasks, especially outdoors (access to a ventilated room is mandatory, more regular breaks, etc.).
Specific measures also exist, particularly in the construction industry: employees can benefit from “unemployment-bad weather” in the event of a work stoppage. In the other sectors, partial unemployment can be exceptionally put in place, or a recovery of hours not worked.
But, overall, regulatory constraints in France are few. Today, French law relies mainly on the responsibility of the employer: it is up to him to lay down the rules, according to the recommendations of the State and Météo France, knowing that he is responsible for the safety and well-being of its employees.
In the event of a red heat wave alert, the Ministry of Labor asks the employer to carry out a daily check of the working conditions: measure the temperature outdoors, indoors, re-examine the workload, the schedules, etc. As a reminder, according to the n the National Research and Safety Institute for the Prevention of Workplace Accidents and Occupational Diseases (INRS), the practice of a physical profession from 28°C becomes dangerous, and 30°C for sedentary work.
Overall, dialogue between employer and employees is essential to adapt working conditions: working hours can be changed, more use of teleworking, etc. Particular attention must be paid to vulnerable people, for example pregnant women. The labor code is certainly a little rigid, but by mutual agreement, everything is possible.
Finally, it is good to remember that a right of withdrawal exists. If an employer does not take the necessary measures to protect his employees (no access to water, extreme temperatures, etc.), the employee may, if he feels in a situation of serious danger, not work, without loss of pay.
In July, a bill was tabled in the National Assembly by the group of Insoumis deputies to put in place stricter regulations. One could, in fact, imagine a limitation of working hours per day, or extend the system of “unemployment-bad weather” to other sectors. Finally, a European rule is possible on these issues, since heat waves are likely to recur everywhere in Europe. »