On 31 August 2017, in the framework of its efforts to reform labor law, the Government presented five draft decrees1 intended to strengthen social dialogue. These decrees were adopted and published on 23 September.
The 36 measures contained in these decrees will have a major impact on social dialogue within companies. They will increase the number of areas which are open to negotiation, merge employee representative bodies, and grant small and medium businesses the possibility of entering into agreements directly with employees where there are no trade unions present in the company.
Another key measure in this new reform is the establishment of a scale applicable to damages for unfair dismissal.
An increase in the legal compensation for dismissal will be the subject of a future decree.
It will take time for companies to discover these new collective bargaining and social dialogue tools and assess their impact and advantages.
We have summarized the most significant measures below:
In order to strengthen collective bargaining, three groups of negotiation aspects have been defined.
1) The first group includes aspects for which industry-level agreements take precedence over company-level agreements, except in the event the provisions of the latter are at least favourable for employees. These aspects are:
minimum salary levels (excluding bonuses) and classifications; pooling of funds to finance equal representation and vocational training; supplementary collective benefits (social protection) ; various measures concerning working hours (equivalencies, night-shift work, part time work...); various measures concerning fixed term contracts (CDD), temporary contracts, and project based contracts; gender equality; length of renewal of trial periods; the transfer of employment contracts outside the scope of Article L. 1224-1 of the Labor Code (French "TUPE" legislation). 2) The second group includes aspects for which the industry can decide to have its agreement prevail over company-level agreements made subsequently. If the industry-level agreement provides for this override, company-level agreements apply only where their provisions are at least as favorable for employees. The aspects involved are the prevention of the effects of exposure to occupational risk factors (arduousness), occupational integration and retention in employment of disabled workers, headcount as of which trade union representatives must be appointed, and bonuses for hazardous...