Labour Law – France – updates

Unemployment: changes from 1st November 2019

The main changes are:

  • Minimum working time
    To be entitled to unemployment benefit, you should have worked 130 days (910 hours, 6 months) over the past 24 months (against 4 months over the past 28 months prior to 1/11/19).
  • Renewing your rights
    The minimum threshold will be fixed at 6 months (against 1 month prior to 1/11/19). You should have worked 6 months to benefit for renewal of your right to unemployment.
  • Reduction of compensation according to revenue
    Employees with revenue over and above 4 500€ brut per month will have their payments reduced by 30% from the 7thmonth with a ceiling of per month.
  • Handing in your notice
    Employees with at least 5 years’ experience in their companies will be able to benefit from unemployment if they hand in their notice, IF they have a professional project (training or starting a business).
  • Self-employed workers
    Self-employed workers will be eligible, in certain conditions (notably with income lower than 10 000€ per year over the previous 2 years), to receive compensation of 800€ per month for 6 months.

Other measures concerning the reform of unemployment benefit come into place later. They are, for example:

  • the introduction on 1 January 2020 of specific support for new entrants at Pôle Emploi (equivalent Job/Benefit centre) but also for precarious workers (alternation or prolonged accumulation between short contracts and unemployment);
  • the new method of calculating the unemployment benefits calculated from 1 April 2020, will no longer be on the only days worked but on the monthly income from work.

We cannot explain everything is a few lines. For more information click here

Emmanuel Macron signed a bill to reform the Labour code. Here are 14 of the measures that came into force around January 2018.

  1. Labour compensation: minimum and maximum

Creation of a limit in the event of unfair dismissal, fixed at one month’s salary for under one year of service, and which will increase up to 20 months of salary beyond 28 years.Creation of a minimum indemnity. In a very small company (less than 11 employees), it will be set at 15 days from one year of seniority, and then gradually increase to two and a half months from nine years. In other companies, it will be one month from one year of seniority, then three months from two years. In case of “violation of a fundamental freedom”, no limit and a minimum fixed at six months.

  1. Increase in statutory redundancy payments … up to 10 years

Increase, in return, of statutory redundancy indemnities by decree to 1/4 of a month’s salary per year of service, against 1/5 today, up to 10 years. Beyond that, they stay at 1/3 of a month.

  1. Clemence for procedural errors

In the event of dismissal, a procedural error will no longer preclude an examination of the merits of the case. The formal error will be sanctioned as a maximum of one month of damages. To avoid procedural errors, employers and employees will have access to a standard form.

  1. Collective bargaining break-ups

Companies may, by agreement approved by the administration, launch autonomous voluntary separation plans, apart from social plans. The agreement will provide for the level of compensation for all voluntary employees. Currently, amicable separations are concluded only individually. They give entitlement to unemployment insurance.

  1. Economic layoffs

The economic difficulties of groups laying off in France will be deliberated at the national level, instead of globally.

  1. Reduced time limit for redundancy

The redundant employees will have only one year to take their case to a Labour court. Until now, they had one year in the case of economic dismissal, two years in other cases.

  1. Social Dialogue of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises

In companies with up to 20 employees without staff members, the employer can submit a draft agreement on subjects open to business negotiations to a referendum. A two-thirds majority will be required to validate it. Up to 49 employees, the employer may, in the absence of union delegates, negotiate with an elected representative who is not mandated by a trade union.

  1. Corporate Referendum

An employer may organize a referendum to validate an agreement signed by trade unions representing more than 30% of the employees of the company, unless all signatory organizations oppose the consultation. Until then, such referendums could only be organized on the initiative of employee representatives.

  1. Merger of employee representative bodies

The new law will merge by 2020 staff delegates, works council and health, safety and working conditions committee into a “social and economic committee”. It shall retain the competence of the three bodies, and may institute legal proceedings. A health, safety and working conditions commission, of the type safety and working conditions, will remain in the companies of at least 300 employees. Under 300 employees, such commissions will exist in nuclear or hazardous sites companies. For other enterprises, the Labour inspectorate may impose the establishment of such a commission. Companies may also retain staff representatives by agreement. By agreement, it will be possible to integrate trade union delegates, and therefore negotiating competence, into a single body called “works council”. Its endorsement will be necessary on certain subjects.

  1. Industry or branch agreement: what will take precedence

The subjects of negotiation will be divided into three parts: – where the branch agreement takes precedence: conventional minimums, classifications, pooling of joint financing (welfare, training, etc.), management and quality of employment (part-time work, short contracts …), professional equality. – where the branch can decide whether its agreements take precedence over those of companies: hardship, disability, conditions for the exercise of a union mandate, bonuses for dangerous work. – the company agreement takes precedence over all other issues. For example, the seniority bonus, the 13th month.

  1. Fixed-Term Contract and “Permanent Contract on construction site”

The branches may modify by agreement the duration, the number of renewals and the period of absence of the fixed-term contracts.

  1. Generalization of the majority agreement

The rule of the majority agreement (signed by unions representing more than 50% of employees) in companies will be generalized as of May 1, 2018. The majority agreement today applies mainly to matters relating to hours of work. In other fields, the signing of minority trade unions representing 30% of employees is sufficient, if majority unions do not oppose.

  1. Primacy of collective agreements on contracts

Today, several types of company agreements (reduction of working time, job retention, mobility, etc.) impose themselves on the employment contract and lead to the dismissal of employees who refuse. Only one type of agreement will be required in the contract of employment, but will cover a wider field (good operation of the company, development or preservation of employment). In case of refusal, the employees will be dismissed for a specific reason, but will receive unemployment insurance and will be entitled to 100 hours of training financed by the employer.

  1. Telecommuting

The employee will be able to telework by right, whereas an amendment to the employment contract and an agreement are today necessary. If the employer objects, he must justify his refusal.

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