July 2, 2022

Health pass in business: why the government gave up

The top of the state is backtracking. The government is not going to include a health pass for businesses in its vaccine pass bill. He will let parliamentarians possibly table an amendment to this effect. Without directly confirming, government spokesman Gabriel Attal said on Tuesday that there was “no consensus that emerged around this measure”, after a consultation of parliamentary groups by the Prime Minister Jean Castex. In other words, the executive has failed to convince the social partners and political groups of the benefits of the health pass in companies. Earlier in the week, the Minister of Labor Élisabeth Borne had received them to discuss the subject. “Nothing is acted at this stage”, she had admitted at the time, specifying that the measure “would suppose a legislative provision”.

Discussions around this health pass in the company came up against the practical modalities of its implementation in the field: what about unvaccinated employees, suspension of salary, inequality between employees … Concerning the arrival of the new sesame on the workplaces, HRDs were cautious, fearing complications after its introduction. “We must, above all, discuss the sanctions to be implemented”, warned, Monday, Laurence Breton Kueny, vice-president of the National Association of Human Resources Directors (ANDRH) in the columns of L’Express. Especially since according to her, there would always have existed “special cases, unprecedented situations” which employers will have to face. “It will be on the margins, but it will exist. These points must be anticipated.”

While France has 25 million active employees, the corporate health pass has raised many questions about its feasibility in certain professions. “For example a truck driver: by nature, he is itinerant, so how to control it? It’s the same thing for a salesperson, also itinerant”, declared Monday on France info Dominique Carlac’h, spokesperson for Medef. On Twitter, she had hammered at the beginning of the week that “companies scrupulously apply all the necessary preventive measures, and are not places of contamination”. Faced with the decline of the government, she expressed her relief: “We have been heard”. The one who is also vice-president of Medef affirmed to have “raised modalities of complexity of implementation and sanctions which seemed to us disproportionate in view of the objective”.

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A consensus around teleworking

In addition to the social partners, the government did not want to take the risk of alienating the French. A few months before the presidential election scheduled for April, the question of acceptability has undoubtedly tipped in the balance. “The risk is also to crystallize the tensions that already exist in structures between vaccinated and non-vaccinated employees,” added Arnaud Gilberton, co-founder of the consulting firm RH Idoko, on Monday. Especially since this measure was perceived by some as a disguised vaccine obligation. An argument taken up by some opposition candidates such as the Greens presidential candidate Yannick Jadot who “is not in favor”. For his part, the candidate of the Insoumis, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, has never ceased to remind people that the health pass only makes it possible to limit serious forms and warns against “brutal methods” of the executive.

According to Jean Castex, “the discussions could potentially continue among the parliamentary groups of the majority and the opposition, from here to the examination of the text to see if other measures are possible”. He adds that there is on the other hand “consensus as regards the need to reinforce teleworking”. The leader of LR deputies Damien Abad had previously told AFP that in the government’s initial text, “there will not be the extension of the pass (…) to professional circles and to transport. But that may come into the debate by amendment “. The health pass in companies will not appear “clearly not in the text of the law, but by way of amendment of their majority”, “they are hypocrites”, had also estimated the deputy UDI Jean-Christophe Lagarde.

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Jean-Christophe Lagarde believes that the bill on the vaccine pass could be examined in committee by the Assembly “next week” with a view to a discussion in the hemicycle “on January 3”. While the Christmas holidays occur in an uncertain health context, the number of contaminations continues to flare up in France: Tuesday, there were nearly 73,000 contaminations daily. About 20% of positive cases for Covid-19 now fall within the highly contagious variant Omicron, which represented 10% of contaminations at the weekend, government spokesman Gabriel Attal announced on Tuesday evening. Faced with the wave of Covid cases which is affecting France in turn, the government announced on Tuesday the holding of an exceptional Council of Ministers on Monday, December 27, with the hope of adopting the vaccine pass from mid-January.


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