Millions of workers will need a French health pass from August 30

The rule affects staff in venues requiring the public to show a health pass such as restaurants, cafes and cinemas

25 August 2021
An image of a French health pass on a smartphone

The French health pass will become mandatory for employees who come into contact with the public in establishments such as restaurants, cinemas and museums from August 30 Pic: sylv1rob1 / Shutterstock

By Emma Morgan

Millions of workers in France will have to present a valid health pass (pass sanitaire) in order to be able to work from next Monday August 30. 

This requirement will affect members of staff who have contact with customers in places where a health pass is already mandatory for members of the public. This includes, for example, restaurants, bars, museums, zoos, nightclubs and cinemas. 

Teachers are not affected by this rule, although they are expected to have to show their health pass to take part in extracurricular activities such as trips to museums, depending on whether the general public is admitted at the same time.

The health pass is proof of full vaccination, a test showing a person has tested positive for Covid between 11 days and six months prior, or the negative result of a Covid test taken within the past 72 hours. 

In addition to the health pass requirement, over 1.5 million people employed in healthcare, the fire service and the gendarmerie must be fully vaccinated by September 15.

Who will monitor employee compliance? 

The responsibility of checking that workers have a valid health pass will fall to employers or managers, who will use the TousAntiCovid Vérif app to scan their employees’ QR code. 

This will not enable employers to access information on the nature of their staff member’s health pass. 

What will be the punishment for those without a health pass?

Employees who do not possess a valid health pass or refuse to show it to their employer could be prevented from working and made to take holiday until they can prove their Covid-19 status.

If the staff member cannot be moved to a position which does not require a health pass and continues to be unable to present one, their contract could be suspended. 

Labour Minister Elisabeth Borne has also said that “employees should not assume that there will not be dismissals.”

Who will pay for the PCR tests?

The government announced on August 11 that – unless prescribed – PCR and antigen tests would no longer be free from the middle of October. 

PCR tests taken for a worker’s health pass could potentially come under the umbrella of employee expenses, but it remains to be seen whether this will be the case in practice. 

What do workers and bosses think? 

The Toulouse branch of workers union CGT 31 has told La Dépêche that the health pass obligation could “accentuate a new type of discrimination between employees, regarding the nature of their contract, the position they occupy or the place in which they carry out their work.”

The chairman of business federation Medef, Geoffroy Roux de Bézieux, has told Le Parisien that although in theory he supports the pass sanitaire as a way of avoiding another lockdown, he also has concerns. 

“This represents an enormous hindrance to companies trying to recover [from the effect of the Covid-19 crisis]. 

“On the one hand you have businesses whose employees will have to be suspended because they are not vaccinated, and on the other you will see difficulties with recruiting new staff.”

Mr Roux de Bézieux has repeatedly called for a month’s delay on the start of the health pass requirement for workers, giving businesses until September 30 to make sure their staff are ready. 

Related stories 

Covid France: Gendarmes must be fully vaccinated by September 15

Reaction: France mandatory vaccine plan covers 1.5m workers in 70 jobs

‘Why we were protesting against the French health pass today’

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