Obligations Towards The Social And Economic Committee (‘Committee') In French Simplified Joint Stock Companies Of More Than 50 Employees For 'Corporate' Operations

Author:Ms Dominique Dumas
Profession:Courtois Lebel

As a reminder, the Ordinance 2017-1386 of September 22, 2017 created the Social and Economic Committee ("COMMITTEE") for companies with at least 11 employees. The provisions of this ordinance have gradually come into force since January 1, 2018 to allow for the transition.

The purpose of this COMMITTEE shall be to permanently substitute for the existing staff representative institutions that are the Works Council (Comité d'entreprise), the staff delegates Délégués du personnel) and the Committee for health, safety and working conditions (Comité d'hygiène, de sécurité et des conditions de travail/ CHSCT), and this as from January 1, 2020.

Insofar as the election of the members of the COMMITTEE has to take place no later than January 1, 2020, the issue is topical. It seemed therefore appropriate to review the obligations of a simplified joint stock company (Société par actions simplifiée/ SAS), which is the most common form of joint stock companies to date, towards the COMMITTEE in companies with at least 50 employees when dealing with corporate law. Indeed, for those companies, the COMMITTEE's powers are almost identical to those of the Works Council and the later already had to be involved in certain corporate operations.

We therefore hereby do not cover the obligation of information and / or consultation of the COMMITTEE on purely "operational" matters (such as the strategic orientations, the economic and financial situation, the social policy, the working conditions and employment and in particular the use of fixed-term contracts and temporary work, hours of work, holidays, sublease of employees, social protection ...) which do not qualify as "corporate" operations and do not affect its legal structure and/or which are not related to an equity investment by or in the SAS in question.

Similarly, we do not hereby address the COMMITTEE's powers in companies with 11 to 49 employees. The COMMITTEE in those companies takes over the powers which were those of the staff delegates ("Délégués du personnel") and those were not involved in "corporate operations" anyway.

1 - Obligations at the time of shareholders' meetings and collective decisions

In companies with at least 50 employees, COMMITTEE delegates can:

- require the inclusion of draft resolutions on the agenda of any meeting (French Labor Code, Article L. 2323-67, paragraph 2 for the Works Council; Article L 2312-77, paragraph 2 for the COMMITTEE);

- send delegates to attend the shareholders' meetings; they are heard at their request on all the deliberations requiring a unanimous vote of the shareholders (French Labor Code, Article L 2323-67, paragraph 3 for the Works Council; article L 2312-77, paragraph 3 for the COMMITTEE) ;

- petition the court...

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