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Factsheet for measure FR-2021-8/1838 Updated – measures in France

New rules for taking meals at work

Nouvelles règles pour la prise des repas sur le lieu de travail

Country France , applies nationwide
Time period Temporary, 15 February 2021 – 31 December 2021
Context COVID-19
Type Legislations or other statutory regulations
Category Protection of workers, adaptation of workplace
– Occupational health and safety
Author Frédéric Turlan (IRshare) and Eurofound
Measure added 10 April 2021 (updated 20 January 2022)

Background information

While company restaurants are welcoming fewer people in order to comply with the reinforced sanitary safety conditions, a decree published on 14 February 2021 temporarily authorises employees to have lunch on the premises assigned to work, a practice previously prohibited by the Labour Code. In addition, the Ministry of Labour has significantly strengthened the rules for company lunches by publishing, on 23 March 2021, a new update of the sheet on the organisation and operation of company restaurants.

Content of measure

In order to limit the risks of contamination, the decree of 13 February 2021 relaxes, from 15 February 2021 and until the end of a six-month period following the end of the state of health emergency (i.e. until 1 December 2021), the regulations on meal breaks in companies.

When the configuration of the room dedicated to catering does not allow to guarantee the respect of the rules of physical distance (which has just been extended to two meters when the mask cannot be worn), the text indicates that :

  • In establishments with more than 50 employees: the employer may provide one or more other locations that do not include all the equipment. These places may, if necessary, be located inside the premises assigned to the work. They must allow workers to eat in conditions that protect their health and safety.
  • In establishments with fewer than 50 employees: the decree allows to extend this derogatory measure, already in force since 31 December 2019.

On 23 March 2021, a new update of the sheet on the organisation and operation of company restaurants was carried out in the National Protocol to ensure the health and safety of employees in the workplace in the face of the COVID-19 epidemic.

  • Attendance and flow in company restaurants must be limited, the sheet now insists. Companies are therefore encouraged to use takeaway baskets wherever possible
  • Employees should collect them on their own and consume them in their individual offices or in premises made available to them, as permitted by Decree No. 2021-156 of 13 February 2021.
  • They must always wear a mask and keep a distance of one meter in queues.
  • The employer must "systematically" readjust the meal times so that services are staggered and the number of people present at the same time is reduced.
  • In the case of lunch in the canteen, it is no longer possible to eat in a group of up to four people. Instead, lunch should be taken alone, with an empty seat in front of you, and a minimum distance of two meters between each person should be strictly observed.
  • The maximum capacity of one person per 8 m2 must always be respected for the reception of employees.


The following updates to this measure have been made after it came into effect.

29 November 2021

The fact sheet published jointly by the Ministry of Labour and the National Health Insurance Fund (CNAM) on the organisation of catering was updated on 29 November. In company canteens, employees must now respect a distance of two metres between them when it is not possible to wear a mask, i.e. at mealtimes, unless a fixed or removable wall ensures physical separation. Therefore, the company restaurant must install such walls or ensure a distance of two metres between the chairs occupied by each person.

Use of measure

No data available.

Target groups

Workers Businesses Citizens
Applies to all workers Applies to all businesses Does not apply to citizens

Actors and funding

Actors Funding
National government
No special funding required

Social partners

Social partners' role in designing the measure and form of involvement:

Trade unions Employers' organisations
Role Consulted Consulted
Form Any other form of consultation, institutionalised (as stable working groups or committees) or informal Any other form of consultation, institutionalised (as stable working groups or committees) or informal

Social partners' role in the implementation, monitoring and assessment phase:

  • No involvement
  • Main level of involvement: Peak or cross-sectoral level


Peak level social partners are consulted on the measure elaborated by the government.

Views and reactions

No specific reaction.


  • 13 February 2021: Décret n° 2021-156 du 13 février 2021 portant aménagement temporaire des dispositions du code du travail relatives aux locaux de restauration (
  • 23 March 2021: Ministère du travail. Fiche Covid-19 du ministère du Travail sur l’organisation et le fonctionnement des restaurants d’entreprise, mise à jour le 23 mars 2021 (
  • 29 November 2021: Fiche Ministère du Travail - Cnam : COVID-19 organisation et fonctionnement des restaurants (


Eurofound (2021), New rules for taking meals at work, measure FR-2021-8/1838 (measures in France), EU PolicyWatch, Dublin,


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Disclaimer: This information has not been subject to the full Eurofound evaluation, editorial and publication process.