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French employment law : Key developments expected for 2019

The French authorities have been very prolific in the area of effecting reforms to employment law, and 2019 will not be an exception to this general rule (although perhaps less so than was the case in 2017 and 2018).

First, in 2019, a certain number of reforms promulgated in 2017 and 2018 will either come into force become fully effective:

  • As of January 2019, all companies have become subject to the requirement to withhold income tax from salaries paid to their employees. This change had been under discussion for a fairly long time and was initially planned to enter into
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The beginning of a revolution (by the French lower courts) ?

French President Emmanuel Macron implemented a significant reform of the French employment code in late 2017, with the intention of providing employers greater flexibility and predictability in managing labour relations.

One of the most controversial measures was the creation of a grid applicable to the amount of indemnities due to employees for unfair dismissal, setting minima and maxima as a function of the length of service of the employee and the headcount of the employing entity.

Prior to the adoption of the grid, courts were free to determine the amount of damages payable to unfairly dismissed employees based on the … Continue Reading

What happens a firm’s internal regulations following a TUPE transfer ?

Under French employment law, the application of TUPE regulations triggers specific consequences not only with regard to an employee’s employment contract, which is transferred automatically by operation of law, but also on the employees’ collective status.

In this respect, a recent decision of the French Supreme Court has specified what happens to a company’s internal regulations (règlement intérieur) in the event of a TUPE transfer.

It should be recalled that the promulgation of internal regulations is compulsory in companies employing at least 20 employees and the purpose of such document is to cover specific topics, essentially health and safety rules, … Continue Reading

Decision of the French Supreme Court of 28th November 2018 : Does it spell the doom of the gig economy?

The term « gig economy » has come into use to describe segmented jobs governed by “apps”. Drivers, riders, cleaners rely on a “digital platform” to be put in contact with clients and their jobs do not seem to fall precisely within the parameters of laws designed to deal with the traditional subordination relationship of employee to employer, for example because they are free to accept or decline a request for work and because it is often a side job conducted at the same time as another activity.

In France, the business model of such platform relies on the individual … Continue Reading

Dismissal for misconduct cannot be based (solely) on anonymous reports

Anonymous reports have been mistrusted for a number of years in France, for historical reasons. While anonymity enables individuals to raise their voice more openly, without being the targets of retaliation measures, it can also drift into slander.

This explains a specificity of French law under which whistleblowers using ethicals lines are strongly encouraged to disclose their identity since generally speaking, , anonymous reports are not acceptable (although a limited number of exceptions are available).

It is only very recently that the French Supreme Court had to resolve a case involving an employee dismissed on the basis of anonymous reports.… Continue Reading

Employee rights in France in the event of bereavement

The occurrence of certain events in an employee’s personal life may give rise to authorized leave for family reasons, particularly in case of bereavement.

The French labor code provides for a list of events entitling an employee to take leave. These provisions are of Public Order and therefore cannot be derogated from in a way that is less favourable to the employee.

However, it is not rare for sector wide/ company-wide collective bargaining agreements to provide for more favourable provisions (in terms of events triggering the allocation of family leave, duration of each family leave, and payment therefor).

During family … Continue Reading

The dangerous combination of the right to disconnect and the concept of on call-duty

French law implemented in 2017 the “right to disconnect” from digital tools, requiring employers to limit employees’ use of digital tools outside of office hours.

The purpose of this legislation is to protect the employees’ work-life balance and their right to rest periods.

The law did not provide details of how employers should implement the right to disconnect as the employer is supposed to negotiate such modalities with its unions. In the absence of agreement, the employer is required to prepare a charter, after having consulted the works council or the staff representatives.

The law did not provide any specific … Continue Reading

Can a dismissal letter be signed by an individual belonging to a holding entity?

Dismissal procedures are highly regulated in France including with respect to the identity of the individual who is entitled to conduct the procedure and sign the dismissal letter; such person must -by definition- be the “employer” .  However, some flexibility has been introduced over the years by French case law, and a recent decision of 13 June 2018 of the French Supreme Court is an illustration of such flexibility.

In this decision, the French Supreme Court held that a dismissal letter could be validly signed by the general manager of the holding entity, which is not the employing entity.

As … Continue Reading

Regulation applicable to dress codes in the workplace in France

An individual freedom…

Generally speaking, employees are free to choose how they wish to dress, including in the workplace. Such freedom is protected by the rules of the French labor code, which provide that an employer may not restrict an employee’s work clothing without proper justification based on the nature of the tasks to be performed and that any such restrictions must be in proportion to the goal sought.

…which can be limited under certain circumstances

However, the freedom to dress as one wishes does not fall within the category of fundamental liberties and therefore it may be limited in … Continue Reading

Tort liability: other grounds for bringing actions against a parent company in French employment litigation

It is a fact of life in French employer-employee relations that employees have no hesitation in bringing actions against their employer, in particular following termination of an employment, and that litigation is therefore not just a virtual weapon. Not only do employees sue their employer but, where the employer is a part of a group of companies, they have sought to impose liability on the group parent company in such employment litigation where they consider that the parent company was too involved in the management and decisions of its French subsidiary and that such involvement had proven detrimental to the … Continue Reading

Le temps de trajet des salariés itinérants n’est (définitivement) pas du temps de travail effectif

La détermination du temps de travail effectif des salariés est un sujet complexe, et l’enjeu est considérable pour les salariés dans la mesure où ce temps de travail effectif a un impact direct sur leur rémunération.

C’est encore plus vrai pour les salariés itinérants, dont les fonctions impliquent des temps de trajet importants (notamment entre leur domicile et le lieu d’implantation des clients de l’entreprise pour laquelle ils travaillent, qu’il s’agisse du premier client visité dans la journée ou le dernier client).

Comment doivent être pris en compte ces temps de trajet ? Sont-ils constitutifs d’un temps de travail effectif … Continue Reading

RGPD : nouveau facteur de risque en droit social?

Le règlement général sur la protection des données (« RGPD ») est entré en vigueur le 25 mai 2018. Il modifie la législation antérieure sur le traitement des données personnelles en supprimant notamment le principe de déclaration préalable à la CNIL. Cette déclaration est remplacée par une obligation pour l’entreprise de démontrer la conformité de ses systèmes de traitement des données, notamment par la nomination d’un délégué à la protection des données et l’obligation de notifier les violations de données. Les sanctions liées au non-respect de cette réglementation ont de quoi faire frémir les directions juridiques puisque les amendes que … Continue Reading

Issues of employment status in France

France makes a distinction between those individuals with an employment status and independent workers.

Under French employment law, an employee is defined as an individual who works pursuant to an employment contract (and under the subordination of the employing entity) and receives a salary in return for his or her services. Unlike an employee, a consultant remains independent from his or her client and is not subject to the supervision of an employer

The category in which a person falls is of particular importance as in one case, the individual will enjoy all the protection and rights arising from French … Continue Reading

Employees’ freedom of speech on the Internet is not without boundaries

Books, hotels, restaurants, products: you can find reviews and rating websites for just about everything on the internet – even employers. However, employees posting internet reviews of their employer should be careful and measured in what they say, or risk being subjected to disciplinary measures  – or even dismissal – if they abuse their freedom of speech.

A recent decision of the French Supreme Court provides an illustration justifying such a warning.

A communication agency was warned by one of its clients that a very negative review had been posted (anonymously) on a website specializing  in publishing  reviews and rating … Continue Reading

Lack of probity may provide grounds for dismissal for serious misconduct

French employment courts generally subject alleged reasons for employee dismissal to close scrutiny, particularly where dismissals are based on a breach of the duty of loyalty or of probity. Such breaches only constitute valid grounds for dismissal if they are genuine and rely on objective facts and behaviour which are attributable to the employee concerned.

From time to time, the French Supreme Court renders decisions recalling this principle. And here is a perfect example.

In the case in question, a bank client relationship manager was dismissed under the following circumstances:

The bank in which he was employed organized a client … Continue Reading

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 … 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

Information collected via Facebook cannot – always – be used as evidence against an employee

Technology is ever-changing, and while in the past evidence of an employee’s misconduct was based mainly on “physical” witnesses and observations, employers might now be tempted to use data obtained through social media as evidence against their employees.

At the present time the French Supreme Court has not had many occasions to clarify the manner in which evidence obtained by French employers through the Facebook website (and more particularly on the “wall” of an individual) should be treated by the courts.… Continue Reading

Subventions du comité d’entreprise : du changement plus tôt que prévu

Le calcul des subventions qui doivent être allouées au comité d’entreprise (qu’il s’agisse de la subvention de fonctionnement, ou la contribution aux activités sociales et culturelles) est un casse-tête chinois pour les entreprises depuis plusieurs années déjà.

Ce casse-tête a été partiellement résolu par les ordonnances portant réforme du Code du travail qui ont prévu des dispositions spécifiques – et plus claires que les dispositions antérieures – sur les sommes à prendre en compte pour calculer les subventions allouées au comité d’entreprise.

Cependant, ces dispositions ne concernent que les sociétés déjà pourvues d’un comité social économique, à l’heure où l’écrasante … Continue Reading

Un salarié protégé peut-il contester la rupture conventionnelle homologuée dont il a fait l’objet devant le juge judiciaire ?

Les salariés protégés (représentants du personnel, délégués ou représentants syndicaux, salariés mandatés, etc.) bénéficient d’un statut particulier, eu égard à leur rôle dans l’entreprise. A ce titre, toute modification, et a fortiori, rupture de leur contrat de travail doit être autorisée par l’inspection du travail.

La conclusion d’une rupture conventionnelle homologuée, quand bien même il s’agit d’un mode de rupture qui suppose l’accord du salarié, ne déroge pas à cette règle. Afin que la rupture conventionnelle soit valablement conclue, l’employeur doit par conséquent solliciter et obtenir l’autorisation de l’inspection du travail.

Cette procédure a une incidence directe sur le contentieux … Continue Reading

French employment code reform: Focus on the social and economic committee

French President Emmanuel Macron has signed five ordinances making important changes to several aspects of the French employment code. The ordinances, which were immediately published in the French Official Journal on September 23rd, 2017, are aimed in particular at providing employers more flexibility and predictability in labour-management relations. They were supplemented by a number of decrees (some additional regulations should be published soon).

The law ratifying these ordinances is currently being discussed before the Senate. Pending its publication, all provisions of this ambitious reform (the “Reform”) are applicable.

Due to the significant amount of amendments to French employment regulation provided … Continue Reading

Recent developments in French employment law regarding financial institutions: How the French Government wants to enhance Paris’ attractiveness as a global financial place

Apart from certain provisions which may be tailored to the relevant situations negotiated by companies or sectors of business through collective agreements (subject to compliance with a number of basic rules and principles), French employment law does not include any specificities in relation to certain sectors of business.

In particular, financial institutions are subject to the same set of rules as any other French company.

However, this may change in the next few weeks or months.

As part of the process of ratification of President Macron’s ordinances reforming the French labour code,  the French National Assembly adopted on 23 November … Continue Reading

La présomption d’innocence peut-elle s’opposer au licenciement d’un salarié fondé sur des faits visés par une procédure pénale ?

La Cour de cassation a été saisie d’un dossier concernant un salarié de la société Euro Disney, qui avait été licencié à la suite de la découverte, par son employeur, et dans le cadre d’une enquête pénale, du fait que celui-ci avait acheté à l’un de ses collègues des stupéfiants.

En effet, au printemps 2012, une procédure d’instruction avait été ouverte pour rechercher des faits d’infraction à la législation sur les stupéfiants au sein du parc d’attraction. Plusieurs salariés avaient alors été mis en cause. Dans le cadre de cette procédure pénale, la société Euro Disney s’était constituée partie civile, … Continue Reading

French employment code reform: Focus on collective negotiation

On September 22, 2017, French President Emmanuel Macron signed five ordinances making important changes to several aspects of the French employment code. The ordinances, which were immediately published in the French Official Journal on September 23rd, 2017, are aimed in particular at providing employers more flexibility and predictability in labour-management relations.

Several provisions of this ambitious reform (the “Reform”) – numbering 159 pages and providing for 36 measures – are already in force.

These texts have now been supplemented by a further ordinance (published in the French Official Journal on December 21st, 2017) and by a number of decrees (published … Continue Reading

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