As 2017 is a Presidential election year in France, we do not expect major changes in employment legislation to occur in France in the near future. However, this does not mean that French employment lawyers will be unoccupied.
First and foremost, the El Khomri law (dated 8 August 2016), which significantly modified the employment law landscape in France, is progressively coming into effect: a number provisions only entered into force on 1st January 2017, and implementing decrees are still awaited in a number of areas.
The main measures which have come into force on 1st January 2017 are:
- New rules regarding negotiation of collective agreements, with the goal of facilitating the conclusion of collective agreements at the company level (particularly through a ratification process of agreements through a referendum among employees),
- A new hierarchy of rules regarding certain matters (working time and paid leaves): collective agreements at company level may prevail over sector-wide collective bargaining agreements,
- A “right to disconnection” from electronic communication devices outside of working hours has been created for the benefit of employees (the scope thereof is however still being discussed),
- Some new flexibility has been added regarding working time provisions, and
- The specific procedure aiming at acknowledging an employee’s disability has changed entirely in order to make it more straightforward (although professionals are not convinced this goal will be achieved).
Second, a huge effort commenced a few months ago of rewriting of the French Employment Code, in order to simplify labour legislation (not an easy task – the 2016 French Employment Code is 3,000 pages long and studded with of cross references).
This is an even more ambitious task than the changes made by the El Khomri law: the owners of this work were assigned the role of restructuring the French employment code to identify, for each topic, (i) those rules which are of public order and cannot be modified by agreement, (ii) those rules which may be amended through collective agreements, within certain limits, and (iii) those rules which will be applicable if no collective agreement is relevant.
French employment law is permanently changing, testing our adaptability capacities!