Companies: Omicron-related absenteeism remains limited

With more than 300,000 infections every day, the SARS-CoV-2 virus raised fears of disruption to society, with a sharp rise in absenteeism. However, despite the Omicron wave, companies so far seem to be coping, as confirmed by employers' associations.

Omicron wave: various measures taken in advance to avoid disruption

At the end of December, the Scientific Advisory Board warned of the risk of " societal disruption " in January, due to the outbreak of the Omicron variant and the number of contaminations. On January 7, 328,214 cases were recorded in 24 hours, and the epidemic peak has not yet been reached.

However, despite the Omicron outpouring, employers' organizations were reassuring that absenteeism in companies had not risen massively. The Medef, the Mouvement des entreprises de taille intermédiaire (METI) and the Confédération des petites et moyennes entreprises (CPME) all said they were calm, but not complacent.

Several government measures have been taken to curb absenteeism, starting with compulsory teleworking at least 3 days a week. Schools have remained open with a more relaxed health protocol, even if parents have to cope with a sometimes chaotic operation. As for the duration of isolation in the event of contamination or contact with an infected person, this has been reduced under certain conditions to enable a quicker return to work.

Absenteeism: a cautious approach over the coming weeks

However, the situation is far from simple. In large conurbations, the difficulties are greater due to the higher number of contaminations. What's more, not all sectors of activity have been spared the consequences of the epidemic wave.

As a result, the SNCF was forced to cancel some regional trains due to absenteeism. The French Post Office (La Poste) has had to temporarily close some offices, and parcel and letter delivery is experiencing some disruption.


In the medical-social sector, school transport and construction, absenteeism is sometimes as high as 20% in some companies, and temporary employment offers are on the rise in logistics and mass distribution, as Adecco has noted.


While employers' associations are not alarmists, they remain cautious. The epidemic wave has not yet reached its peak, which implies an increased risk of absenteeism in the coming weeks. Small businesses are the most likely to be unable to cope with the extra pressure.