French President Emmanuel Macron’s government unveiled a highly anticipated labour reform plan seen at home and abroad as a crucial test of his reform mettle.
The thrust is to allow a wider range of labour conditions to be set in the workplace rather than at the sectoral level.
The “El Khomri” labour reform law adopted in 2016 ran into stiff opposition from several labour unions whose main argument was that it undermined the primacy of France’s Labour Code — a body of laws and standards built up over the past 200 years.
Employers of less than 20 people will be able to negotiate directly with employees on workplace rules even in the absence of in-house unions.
For companies of less than 50 employees without unions, a representative elected by employees will be able to strike deals with the employer.
The new reform would allow several employees to negotiate such voluntary agreements together.
An employer will no longer be punished by labour courts if technical errors were made in dismissal forms but the dismissal is considered justified.
Labour courts currently assess the health of companies at the global level to decide whether they had economic grounds to dismiss workers.
The scope will now be reduced to the national level only, as is the case in most other European countries, giving more leeway for multinational companies to adjust staff levels in France. The goal is to introduce a lengthy list of issues that can be set at the company level. The El Khomri law introduced the possibility of opting out of sector-wide agreements to set overtime pay rates and the new reform would extend the list of opt-outs to other areas.—Agencies