Civil Services : an agreement defines the framework regulating the practice of teleworking for the new school year

Olivier ABULI, Public Sector Consultant for Vetted

September 3, 2021

After sixteen months of improvisation and then adaptations, a framework agreement about the organization of remote working within the three Civil Services was signed on July 13th.

It has been in force since September 1st, but, now, each organization is granted more time to adapt this agreement to its own specificities, until December 31st, 2021.

Simple and realistic general principles.

The agreement sets down four fundamental principles from which only a few exceptions may be made :

- it must be voluntary work and the employer should grant a written authorization,
- a full-time employee would spend three days teleworking per week maximum,
- digital solutions would mainly be used,
- this agreement is reversible, at the initiative of either party.

Pragmatic terms of exercise.

It also specifies several key elements to be respected when organizing telework :

- the employee either works at home, or in another private or professional place (e.g. a third place),
- the employer must provide the employee with access to the digital tools needed to perform his / her duties and to interact with his / her department or even with users,
- the eligibility for teleworking is determined by the type of tasks - this is a step forward - and not by the employee's position. The share of eligible and ineligible tasks is defined on the basis of an exchange between the employer and the employee,
- the establishment of a local social dialogue that includes an in-depth thinking about the functioning of the services and the preservation of collective time are a prerequisite,
- the text underlines the special attention to be paid to risk prevention (RPS and TMS) and more generally to the health and safety of teleworkers,
- In addition, there is a fixed allowance of €2.5 per day of teleworking. This applies to hospital and government employees (up to an annual limit of €220), whereas it will be freely negotiated by the local authorities.

Specific organizational issues for the territorial public services (FPT).

According to INSEE1, only 3% of French employees, mainly executives, had the possibility to telework regularly in 2019. In the Civil Service, this rate amounted to 6.4% for State employees (55% of category A - executives) and... at 1.2% for local authorities employees (75% of category C - execution staff).

Teleworking is an embryonic phenomenon in the FPT, but it has suddenly imposed itself in response to the strict lockdown of 2020 : 50% of executives and 25% of territorial agents carried out part of their activities remotely2. And while these rates have gradually decreased throughout 2021, they still remain in the range of 15 to 20% of the workforce. This gradually and firmly fixes a practice that meets the aspirations of part of the staff.

While it seems impossible to return to zero teleworking when the Covid-19 crisis is over, municipalities and cities, whose employees are massively dedicated to the production of greeting services, proximity services and interventions in public spaces, are thus faced with a complex equation.

Defining and adapting the right balance while preserving the cohesion and efficiency of work groups and public policies may require the adoption of a more global project to decarbonise the organization. The development of tele-services and the rational organization of work rhythms would have a significant place in this.

The carbon challenge of teleworking.

According to a study by the French Agency for Ecological Transition (ADEME)3 conducted among a panel of companies representing 350,000 employees, the absence of 1 daily travel to the workplace per week generates an annual gain of 271 kilograms of CO2 equivalent per employee. Working from home thus contributes to easing mobility, even if Ademe has measured a "rebound effect" corresponding to short trips (shopping, children transportation to school...) which are usually done on the way to work (67.7 kg CO2 eq/year).

Similarly, if telecommuting reduces office consumption, energy consumption at home is estimated at 20.7 kg eq CO2/year for one day of telecommuting per week. This value can be reduced by a more moderate use of videoconferencing, which is extremely energy intensive.
In the end, the balance is positive by 182.6 kg eq CO2/year per employee on the basis of one day teleworking per week in the ADEME study.

1. Insee references - The economy and society in the digital age - 04/11/2019
2. Local government HR barometer 2020 - Randstad Group's public sector division
3. Ademe, a study on the characterization of rebound effects induced by teleworking - Sept. 2020