Inexécution d’une promesse de porte-fort conclue dans le cadre d’une transaction : pas de résolution du protocole

En l’espèce dans le cadre d’un litige avec l’un de ses salariés, un employeur a été condamné à verser à celui-ci une somme totale de près de 180.000 euros. A la suite de cette décision, les deux parties se sont rapprochées ont conclu un accord transactionnel aux termes duquel l’employeur versait au salarié une somme de 72.000 euros et s’engageait à ce que les entreprises du groupe reprennent des relations contractuelles avec le salarié – qui exercerait dorénavant à titre libéral et indépendant. En contrepartie, l’ancien salarié renonçait à l’exécution du jugement prud’homal.

Le salarié ne s’étant vu proposer aucune mission, il et a de nouveau saisi les juges aux fins d’obtenir la résolution judiciaire du protocole transactionnel ainsi que le versement de dommages-intérêts.

Inexécution d’un élément essentiel de la transaction

La cour d’appel a considéré justement que la transaction comportait une promesse de porte-fort, à savoir l’engagement par l’employeur, de faire en sorte que les sociétés du groupe proposent au salarié la reprise d’une relation contractuelle..

Pour la cour d’appel, l’inexécution de cet justifiait l’annulation de l’accord transactionnel, dans la mesure où la promesse constituait un élément essentiel de la transaction.

La société employeur a formé un pourvoi en cassation contre l’arrêt de la cour d’appel.

Autonomie de la promesse de porte-fort

La Cour de cassation a censuré l’arrêt de la cour d’appel considérant au contraire que l’inexécution d’une promesse de porte-fort ne peut être sanctionnée que par la condamnation de son auteur à des dommages-intérêts (en appliquant à la lettre les dispositions du Code civil à la promesse de porte-fort).

En effet, le droit commun prévoit la possibilité de demander la résolution judiciaire d’une transaction conclue après la rupture du contrat de travail, lorsque l’une des parties ne respecte pas les engagements qu’elle prévoit. La résolution a pour effet de replacer les parties dans la situation juridique où elles se trouvaient avant la conclusion du protocole transactionnel, de sorte que celui-ci n’est plus opposable au salarié.

Pour autant la résolution et selon la Cour de cassation de la transaction ne peut être obtenue lorsque l’engagement inexécuté par l’employeur est une simple promesse de porte-fort.

La solution est dès lors moins favorable à l’ancien salarié car la transaction lui restant opposable, il n’est plus question pour lui d’obtenir l’exécution du jugement prud’homal. Par ailleurs, le montant des dommages-intérêts qu’il pourrait obtenir dépend du préjudice subi, et celui-ci n’est pas nécessairement équivalent au montant des indemnités prud’homales auxquelles il a renoncé. Il lui faudra en effet démontrer qu’il aurait pu percevoir des revenus équivalents si des missions lui avaient été confiées comme prévu initialement. Il appartiendra aux juges du fond, du fait du renvoi de l’affaire, d’évaluer le préjudice réellement subi.

You can’t escape award coverage with a fancy job title and a big salary

In our experience, many employers are under the false impression that, if they put an employee on a ‘common law contract’ and give them a fancy job title, they will be award-free, particularly if they are paid well above the award rates.

The recent case of Karen Muscat v Chase Commercial Pty Limited [2018] FWC 1398 reminds us that this just isn’t always true.

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Federal Employers: Get Ready, Proactive Pay Equity is on the Horizon

Earlier this year, we learned that the federal government is going forward with its promise to re-vamp the federal pay equity system. As of yet, the federal government has not introduced any legislation. However, in the 2018 Budget Plan, the federal government has promised a proactive federal pay equity system in line with Ontario and Quebec’s: proactive pay equity. According to the 2018 Budget Plan, the new federal pay equity legislation would:

  • Apply to federal employers with 10 or more employees, with pay equity requirements built as much as possible into existing federal compliance regimes;
  • Establish a streamlined pay equity process for employers with fewer than 100 employees;
  • Set out specific timelines for implementation, and compulsory maintenance reviews;
  • Include job types such as seasonal, temporary, part-time and full-time positions;
  • Provide independent oversight;
  • Ensure that both wages and other benefits are evaluated in a gender neutral way;
  • Apply to the Federal Contractors Program on contracts equal to or greater than $1 million, and ensure a robust application of federal employment equity law; and
  • Repeal previous legislation such as the Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act which is inconsistent with the goal of pay equity.

While the information provided by the federal government is limited, it is probable that the federal government will implement pay equity legislation that would resemble a hybrid between Ontario and Quebec’s pay equity regimes. Most notably, the promise of an “independent oversight” will likely see the creation of a new regulatory body like the Pay Equity Commission in Ontario or the Commission des normes, de l’équité de la santé et de la sécurité du travail in Quebec, which have expansive powers to investigate and enforce their respective acts. Continue reading

New York State’s new sexual harassment prevention laws will require action by all New York employers

On April 12, 2018, New York State  Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law new measures aimed at preventing sexual harassment. We summarized these provisions in detail in our legal update, New York employers should get ready to comply with New York State’s new sexual harassment prevention laws, published on April 11th, in anticipation of the bill being signed into law.  The new law requires New York State employers to adopt sexual harassment prevention policies and conduct annual training on such policies, restricts the use of non-disclosure and arbitration provisions related to claims of sexual harassment, and extends workplace protections against sexual harassment to non-employees.  The new law requires prompt action on the part of most, if not all, New York State employers.

Mandatory sexual harassment prevention policies and training

Effective October 9, 2018, every New York State employer (regardless of size and including those who employ only domestic and household employees) will be required to adopt a sexual harassment prevention policy that meets specified requirements.  New York State employers who currently have anti-harassment policies in place will likely need to update their policies, as most policies that we have seen do not cover every item that is required by the new law.

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It’s not discriminatory to pay enhanced pay during maternity leave but only statutory pay during shared parental leave

In the UK, only female employees are eligible for statutory maternity leave. They are also eligible for statutory maternity pay at a fixed rate during such leave subject to certain conditions – and it is common for employers to pay enhanced maternity pay during periods of maternity leave.

Whilst many employers do not pay enhanced paternity pay to those on paternity leave, it has long been accepted that paying enhanced maternity pay is defensible under the provisions of the Equality Act which state that, when determining whether a man has been discriminated against on grounds of his gender, no account is to be taken of special treatment afforded to a woman in connection with pregnancy or childbirth. Continue reading

Le projet de loi sur la réforme de la LNT: quelles sont les conséquences pour les agences de placement?

Le projet de loi 176 intitulé « Loi modifiant la Loi sur les normes du travail et d’autres dispositions législatives afin principalement de faciliter la conciliation famille-travail » a été déposé par le gouvernement libéral à l’Assemblée nationale à la fin du mois de mars. Plusieurs de ses dispositions auront un impact significatif sur les agences de placement de personnel. Voici quelques-unes de nos observations sur le sujet.

En résumé

En plus d’établir le principe selon lequel une agence ne peut accorder à un salarié un taux de salaire inférieur à celui consenti aux salariés de l’entreprise cliente, le projet de loi oblige les agences à détenir un permis et prévoit la mise en place d’une réglementation les concernant. Il rend passible d’une sanction pénale une entreprise qui retient les services d’une agence ne détenant pas de permis. Également, les agences et les entreprises clientes qui retiennent leurs services seront dorénavant solidairement responsables envers le salarié des obligations pécuniaires fixées par la LNT. Continue reading

Changes to taxation of termination payments – April 2018

Changes to taxation of termination payments came into force in the United Kingdom on 6 April 2018. The new rules will mean that income tax and national insurance contributions (NICs) will be payable on all payments which relate to an employee’s notice period.

The position prior to 6 April was that a “termination payment” (being any payment that is not already chargeable to income tax) could be paid tax free up to £30,000. However, any payments made pursuant to the contract of employment including a contractual payment in lieu of notice (PILON) would be subject to tax in the usual way.  One particular area of issue was the taxation of discretionary PILONs.  Whilst a discretionary PILON may be outside the contract and therefore could arguably fall within a true termination payment,  where such a payment has become “customary” then the UK tax authority (HMRC) has sought to tax that non-contractual PILON. Continue reading

The long-awaited ‘Independent Review of Occupational Health and Safety Compliance and Enforcement in Victoria’

Despite being dated November 2016, the long-awaited report entitled ‘Independent Review of Occupational Health and Safety Compliance and Enforcement in Victoria’ (the review) was released on 18 December 2017, just in time for some light holiday reading.  At the same time the Victorian government response to the review was also released (the government response).

The review was undertaken between February and November 2016 by Dr Claire Noone, Ms Cathy Butcher and Ms Margaret Donnan (the panel).  The terms of reference included to examine, review and make recommendations about “…the relevance and appropriateness of WorkSafe’s Compliance and Enforcement Policy” and “…the appropriateness and effectiveness of Worksafe’s compliance and enforcement activities”.

In all, 22 recommendations were made by the panel (after having reviewed 112 submissions[1]) and a number of them are summarised below.

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Changes to the Heavy Vehicle National Law coming in mid-2018

Australia’s Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) is changing in mid-2018.  The changes are not only relevant to businesses that drive or operate heavy vehicles.  They will also apply to any businesses that consign, pack, load or receive goods by heavy vehicles.

Background to Chain of Responsibility Amendments

As a result of concerns expressed by industry participants and regulators, and after extensive consultation, Australia’s transport ministers resolved that the HVNL should be reformed to better align with other national safety legislation such as the Model Work Health and Safety Act and the Rail Safety National Law. Continue reading

Guaranteed wage increase upon return from maternity leave

An employer cannot replace an increase of salary due to an employee returning from maternity leave by the payment of an exceptional bonus.

For the first time, the French Supreme Court has issued a ruling concerning the nature of the salary increase due to an employee returning from maternity leave, as required by article L.1225-26 of the French labor code.

In this particular case, an employee requested an increase of salary calculated on the basis of the salary increases which took place within the company during her maternity leave. Continue reading

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