Littler Global Guide - France - Q2 2023

Browse through brief employment and labor law updates from around the globe. Contact a Littler attorney for more information or view our global locations.

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Decree on Abandonment of Position and Resignation

New Order or Decree

Author: Guillaume Desmoulin, Partner – Littler France

Decree no. 2023-275 of April 17, 2023, introduced a presumption of resignation in the event of voluntary abandonment of post by an employee.

Under this decree, an employer who finds that an employee has abandoned their post and intends to invoke the presumption of resignation must give the employee formal notice, by registered letter or by letter delivered personally against a receipt, to justify their absence and return to their post. The employee might have a legitimate reason for the absence (such as medical reasons) or wish to exercise a right (such as the right of withdrawal, the right to strike, refusal to carry out an instruction contrary to regulations or to modify the employment contract on the employer's initiative). In such cases, the employee must indicate such reason in the reply to the aforementioned formal notice.

The deadline set by the employer for the employee to justify the absence and return to work may not be less than 15 days.

Dismissal of a Whistleblower is Invalid Only if the Facts Reported Constitute a Crime or Misdemeanor

Precedential Decision by Judiciary or Regulatory Agency

Author: Guillaume Desmoulin, Partner – Littler France

An employee wrote to the company’s CEO to express the employee’s disagreement with the introduction of a loyalty card. The employee was dismissed for gross misconduct and poor performance, for which a lawsuit was filed challenging the dismissal. The court ruled that the dismissal was due, at least in part, to the reporting of an act that could be classified as a criminal offense and was therefore null and void.

The French Supreme Court (Cour de Cassation) censured the appeal court's decision. It points out that no employee can be dismissed for having reported, in good faith, facts constituting a misdemeanor or a crime of which the employee may have become aware in the course of the employment, or for having filed a report. However, the Court noted, the Court of Appeals had not ruled on the criminal nature of the facts reported by the employee.

Proving Discrimination Can Justify Invading the Privacy of Other Employees

Precedential Decision by Judiciary or Regulatory Agency

Author: Guillaume Desmoulin, Partner – Littler France

Several employees, believing they had been discriminated against because of their trade union activities, applied to the court's summary proceedings panel for information enabling them to assess their situation in relation to that of other employees in a comparable situation. The Court of Appeal granted their request. It noted that employees must have precise information on their colleagues whose situation can be compared, in terms of seniority, age, qualification, diploma, type of contract, and so on. The disclosure of first and last names is essential and proportionate to the protection of the right to evidence of employees who may be victims of discrimination. The court therefore ordered the company to disclose the pay slips of people hired on the same site, in the same year or in the two preceding years, in the same professional category, at the same level or a similar level of qualification.

The French Supreme Court (Cour de Cassation) upheld the appellate ruling, pointing out that it is up to the judge, on receiving a request for disclosure of documents, to determine first whether such disclosure is necessary for the exercise of the right to proof of the alleged union discrimination and proportionate to the aim pursued. Secondly, if the information requested is likely to affect the personal lives of other employees, the judge must verify which measures are indispensable to the exercise of the right to evidence, if necessary, by limiting the scope of production of the documents requested.

Bill on a Better Profit Sharing with Employees in Companies

Proposed Bill or Initiative

Author: Guillaume Desmoulin, Partner – Littler France

A bill transposing a national interprofessional collective agreement on the sharing of value within the company has been adopted by the French National Assembly. The bill includes the following obligations for employers:

  • Obligation for companies with 11 to 49 employees, whose net profit represents at least 1% of sales for three consecutive years, to set up at least one of the existing value-sharing schemes: profit-sharing, incentive schemes, employee savings schemes, Profit Sharing Bonus. The measure takes the form of a five-year experiment, starting in 2024.
  • Obligation for professional branches to draw up, by December 31, 2024, an assessment of their actions to promote and improve gender diversity in the workplace.
  • Obligation for companies with at least 50 employees, when they have a union representative and record an "exceptional increase" in profits, to enter into negotiations on the sharing of profits.

Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.