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France cuts construction work hours due to heatwaves

A worker uses a towel for protection from the sun
A worker uses a towel for protection from the sun Copyright Steven Senne/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved.
Copyright Steven Senne/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved.
By Sertac Aktan
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France is reducing construction workers' hours due to heatwaves, sometimes sending them home with full pay. High temperatures now justify short-time work and employers must meet specific obligations.


France is reducing the working hours of construction workers due to heatwaves. In some cases, companies send workers home but still pay their wages for the day.

Most construction companies are getting used to dealing with the heat, as the problem is becoming increasingly frequent and limited working hours are now the norm.

Despite around 30C in the shade, workers on a construction site in Toulouse were working in full sunshine.

"It`s a real problem because accidents have already happened, and we are trying to anticipate them," Hugo Pastorello, a site supervisor, said.

"We have to come to the site during the day and see that it's too hot to work, and then we have to send the workers home and they'll still be paid as if they'd worked."

Studies show that above 32C, productivity at work falls by 40%, and when it reaches 40C, it goes down by 76% throughout the workday.

Diogo Bernardo, a Thomas et Danizan worker, said: "It`s important to help the health of the worker, of us, of everyone. I`m young, but maybe there are people older than me and it`s more complicated for them."

Labour law says no limits

In France, the “Code du Travail,” or the country's labour law, does not determine a maximum workplace temperature.

However, it does require employers to make sure their workers are able to do their job under safe conditions, which could arguably include protecting them from the risks posed by extreme heat.

Last year, France’s Employment Ministry issued a reminder about employers’ obligations and recommendations for outdoor workers in hot weather.

These include providing workers with a rest area that allows proper breaks, providing workers with at least 3 litres of drinking water per day, and ensuring workers are not exposed to extreme conditions, like scorching heat.

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