FRANCE: Annual Update – Expected labour law changes in 2016

Sunday and night work

Increased ability to work on Sundays and at night: Retail shops in certain areas can now open on Sundays. Sunday work is voluntary and employees deprived of Sunday rest must be compensated in accordance with the applicable collective agreement. Some shops are also located in international tourist zones, and they can start the night shift as late as midnight (it currently starts at 9pm). Although these reforms were introduced in April 2015, their effect will be more apparent in 2016.
Action required: Negotiate a collective agreement which provides adequate compensation for employees who work Sundays and/or night shifts.

Redundancy process

Simplification of the redundancy process: Companies contemplating collective redundancies can decide the employee selection criteria themselves. In addition, group companies no longer have to offer ‘at risk’ employees a job in a foreign subsidiary. It is for the employee to ask. Although these changes happened in April 2015, their effect will be more apparent in 2016.
Action required: (1) Determine the selection criteria. (2) Tell ‘at risk’ staff that if they want to be considered for redeployment abroad, they must ask.

Mandatory negotiations

Reduced mandatory negotiation topics: As of January 1, 2016 employers can reduce the number of mandatory negotiations from 12 to the following 3 main categories: (a) salary, working time and added value sharing, (b) professional equality between men and women and well-being in the workplace; and (c) management of employment and careers.
Action required: Reorganise the mandatory negotiation process.

Works council consultation

Simplification of Works Council consultation: As of January 1, 2016 the 17 mandatory annual Works Council consultations will be organised into the following three topics: (a) strategic direction of the company, (b) economic and financial situation and (c) social policy, working conditions and employment.
Action required: Reorganise the consultation process of the Works Council.

Mandatory health insurance

Mandatory health insurance: As of January 1, 2016 employers must provide their employees with complementary health insurance and pay half the cost of the cover.
Action required: If the collective bargaining agreement does not provide for a health insurance scheme, negotiate a company level agreement or, failing this, make a unilateral decision and inform the employees.

Merged representative bodies

Smaller employers and merged representatives: Currently, employers with less than 200 employees can merge the staff representatives and the Works Council into a sole representative body. The new law will increase the threshold to 300 employees, and permits the Health and Safety Committee to be merged with then as well. The law has not yet come into effect, but it is expected to in 2016.
Action required: Arrange for a new sole representative body by consulting the three different groups.

Larger employers and merged representatives: Employers with more than 300 employees will be able to collectively bargain to create a new representative body, which would be able to merge with any of the following representative bodies: the staff representatives, the Works Council, the Health and Safety Committee. The law has not yet come into effect, but it is expected to in 2016.
Action required: Negotiate a company-level agreement with staff unions.