Reader Question: I live and work in France. Can my employer make me wear a facemask in the workplace and can I refuse?
The French government dropped rules requiring employees to wear a face mask on March 14, leaving medical and care settings and public transport as the only places where everyone must wear one.
In theory, face masks are no longer mandatory in the workplace, but employers can nevertheless still ask their staff to wear one.
“Employers must continue to apply general laws relating to health and safety,” the labour ministry told Ouest France.
Therefore, when an employer believes that there is a heightened risk of infection in the work environment, they can tell their staff to wear a facemask “as a preventative measure.”
Since this is no longer a legal requirement, employees can also refuse, but they may risk disciplinary action within the company.
“Disciplinary action must be proportionate to the transgression, detailed if necessary within the internal rules of the company,” and will probably begin with a warning, said employment lawyer Mélanie Soutereau.
“But if the unjustified refusal to wear a mask persists over time, [the employer] may think about bringing [the employee’s] work contract to an end, as it may be considered as an attitude that breaches staff and customer health and safety rules.”