An employee working from home (illustration).


Jacques Witt / SIPA

  • For fear of catching Covid-19 at their place of work or in transport, many employees would like to be able to telecommute as during confinement.

  • Yet companies still refuse to implement it, even when possible. 

  • This refusal to telework can sometimes lead to stress and unease at work for some employees, or even worse. 

When the lockdown was enacted last spring, many employees realized that they were quite capable of working remotely.

However, from the beginning of May, many companies resumed their old habits and demanded the return of their employees to the premises.

While France is facing a second wave of the coronavirus epidemic and some would again like to be able to work from home, companies that would have the possibility of setting it up are still opposing it.

And this despite repeated calls from the government.

In view of the nearly 200 testimonies received by

20 Minutes

on the subject, no sector, private or public, seems to be an exception.

Not even those at the heart of the health care system.

An employee of the Primary Health Insurance Fund reports that there are hundreds in face-to-face in her building, except the "very vulnerable", for lack of agreement found with the Social and Economic Committee (CSE) of the company.

A second testimony coming straight from the Covid cell of the Regional Directorate of the Medical Service, assures us that all fixed-term contracts are deprived of it because "this is not planned in the program now".

A "loss of control over us"

"The request for teleworking is based on volunteering, so an employer is entitled to refuse it if he considers that it is not compatible with the employee's position or the organization of the company," explains Elise Bénéat. , lawyer in employment law at De Pardieu Brocas Maffei.

The Labor Code nonetheless stresses that it must justify this refusal but does not provide for a grid or specific reason on this point.

The employer therefore remains overall in control of the organization of work within his company, provided that his refusal is not excessive.


While there are many reasons given, in many cases, employees see a flagrant and undisguised lack of trust on the part of their management.

"Our boss sees telework as a" loss of control over us "," reports verbatim Blanche *, an executive in an accounting firm and who feels "watched".

Florian *, who works in the same sector, assures us that his boss intends to check “the arrival and departure times” of his employees.

A management from another time?

"Since my director takes advantage of his telework day to go about his personal occupations such as going to Disneyland, he thinks we will do the same," says Arielle * disillusioned.

However, "recent analyzes and surveys show that teleworking in most cases improves the productivity and motivation of employees since they are at the origin and wish it", underlines the lawyer in social law.

For many of our readers, most of the time, this refusal to work remotely even when the activity could lend itself to it, is the result of management from another time, very hierarchical.

"I work for a public administration and like many of them, the hierarchy belongs to the

baby boom


," says Alice * forced to stay in the office.

They have not updated themselves in office automation training, are therefore not comfortable with IT and are lost at home teleworking or alone at work, with their collaborators teleworking.


Some inconsistencies in the reasons given by the employer are also difficult to pass.

"My company refuses me teleworking because I am not yet equipped with a laptop computer, while during the confinement I was very strongly encouraged (to remain modest) to use my personal equipment ...", explains Arthur *.

"Bringing offices to life"

For some bosses, face-to-face work is essential to the life of the company.

"My company hopes to revitalize and bring life to the offices," reports Eric *, who as a Web developer does not need to visit his company to do his work.

The same goes for Philippe *, whose missions in the field of higher education are essentially digital: “My manager and the HRD want us to be there to find a link.


"The confinement has made a ten-year good for teleworking in French companies.

We should be happy about it while paying attention to its negative effects, such as the risk of isolation or communication problems.

Teleworking must be thought out, organized and managers must be trained to manage remotely, ”says Elise Bénéat.

"I have a lump in my stomach, I fold in on myself"

If teleworking must indeed be thought out to be correctly applied, refusals to telework are not always without consequences for the well-being of employees either.

“I am locked up all day in my office and I certainly apply barrier gestures as much as possible, but I live in constant anxiety in my workplace,” says Elisa *.

"I have a lump in my stomach to come to work every morning," says Henri *, whose colleagues do not respect the sanitary protocol in the premises of his company.

I withdraw into myself, avoiding contact with other offices.


For many of our readers, stress does not come so much from the workplace, as the commute.

Some say they have to travel more than 3 hours a day in crowded transportations in cities in the maximum alert zone.

Licensed for teleworking

Several people assured us that because of these refusals to telework, they were considering leaving their company.

Worse, a dismissal measure is underway against Christophe * who works in the field of online payment, because he "refused the obligation of a physical presence" imposed by his employer.

The same goes for Aurore * who indicates to have had an oral agreement to telework, but would have been “fired for absence after seven years in this company and 12 years of collaboration”.

“When an employee is refused teleworking, he must try to understand why, communicate with his management and reassure them by exposing to them, for example, the way in which he sees the organization from a distance, advises Elise Bénéat.

He can also approach staff representatives if there are any, so that the subject is raised collectively rather than individually.

* All respondents' first names have been changed to ensure their anonymity with respect to their company.


Monitoring emails, keyloggers ... Can an employer with impunity "police" his employees by teleworking?


Teleworking good for the environment ... but not without side effects

  • Teleworking

  • Company

  • Covid 19

  • epidemic

  • Coronavirus

  • Health

  • Boss

  • Employees