French Labour Law News

This bulletin outlines recent key case decisions and legal changes that will be of interest to international employers operating in France.

Severance Pay Dispute

A journalist’s employment was terminated, and there was a dispute about how much severance pay should be paid. The journalist claimed the severance pay set out in the national collective bargaining agreement for journalists. This was higher than the severance pay entitlement in the French Labour Code. The Supreme Court decided that the employee could only claim severance under the Labour Code.

Employee Evaluation Proved Discrimination

An employer was ordered to pay its employee damages for anti-union discrimination. When completing the employee’s performance evaluation forms, the employer penalised her because of her absences, which were caused by her union activities. The employer said that these absences┬ámade it “difficult to assess the evolution of her professionalism”.

Second-Hand Smoking Issues

An employee was dismissed on grounds of physical unfitness. The employee claimed damages, alleging that her unfitness was due to her breathing in colleagues’ cigarette smoke, which her employer should have prevented. Her employer argued that she hadn’t raised any issues about smoke inhalation in her previous performance review, and that she voluntarily socialised with her colleagues when they smoked in the garage. The Supreme Court decided that these factors were no defence, and that the employer’s obligations regarding employee exposure to second-hand smoke should have been complied with. Damages could therefore be claimed.

Streamlining Social Security Declarations

As of 1 July 2015, companies with more than 20 employees can take advantage of a new simplified procedure for making social security declarations.

Data Processing Change

The French data protection authority has created a simplified notification system for data controllers who wish to track the geo-location of staff vehicles. The authority has also clarified that employers can track this data to see whether an off-site employee is complying with his/her work schedule, but that such tracking should only be done as a last resort, and should never be done outside of working hours.