Officials in France have re-introduced a work-at-home mandate as the Omicron variant of COVID-19 continues to spread.
The move comes as other European countries impose lockdowns and vaccine mandates on their populations.
According to Business Insider:
France is requiring that all citizens who can work from home do so for three days a week in January as the omicron variant causes a surge in coronavirus infections throughout the world. French Prime Minister Jean Castex declared the new measure on Monday. This is the second time during the pandemic that France has set such a rule, first doing so between March and May of last year. Research shows that work-from-home slows the spread of the virus, and doesn’t hamper productivity, but the discretion is often left to employers to let their workers do it — and many don’t give them the option.
However, many citizens have jobs that cannot be carried out via remote work. Business Insider continued:
Only 30 percent of the French working population worked from home during the containment period last year, according to a survey conducted in August by data platform Statista. Disparities persisted between executives and blue collar workers: 61% of managers and senior professionals were able to work remotely. In contrast, 95% of blue-collar workers either had to stop working or work in person because their jobs did not allow them to do so from home. For white-collar workers, that number was 82%.
75% of respondents to the Gensler France Workplace Survey last year said they were satisfied with their work-from-home experience, even though 65% said that they believe it’s easier to work together at the office. Nearly half of respondents wanted their companies to increase work from opportunities (49%).
Since the end of November, the world’s governments have shifted their attention toward Omicron. However, early reports indicate that the virus, though more infectious, is not as lethal as earlier variants of the virus.
“It presents mild disease with symptoms being sore muscles and tiredness for a day or two not feeling well,” South African Medical Association Chair Dr. Angelique Coetzee told The Telegraph. “So far, we have detected that those infected do not suffer the loss of taste or smell. They might have a slight cough. There are no prominent symptoms. Of those infected, some are currently being treated at home.”
Beyond France, Germany — which recently inaugurated its first new chancellor in nearly two decades — announced a new lockdown for unvaccinated citizens. Analysts believe that the German economy will therefore shrink by 0.5% in the fourth quarter of 2021.
Many workers in Germany have also utilized remote work. Indeed, one German court ruled that a man injured during his “commute” from the bedroom to the home office was able to file a claim on his employer’s insurance.
Killian O’Brien — a lecturer in German Law at University College London — told CNN Business that insurers should prepare for a deluge of new claims: “This is because there is an increased category of activities and events that you can carry out [within the home] that will now be covered, and it seems likely that insurers will therefore have to revisit this ruling often.”
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