The Social and Solidary Economy law (SSE or "Hamon law") dated July 31, 2014 has created, as from November 1st, 2014, a new prior employee information procedure in companies which qualify as "small and medium-sized businesses" with fewer than 250 employees. This procedure applies in particular in case of a contemplated sale of a going concern or also of shares, of equity, or of securities giving access to the majority of the company's capital.
Now, in addition to the prior consultation of the Works Council in case of a contemplated sale of a business, employers must also inform their employees of the contemplated sale in order to allow all employees of the selling company to make an offer to buy the business.
When the company employs less than 50 employees (or does not have any employee representatives), the information of employees must take place at least two months before the date of the sale. In other cases, employees must be informed in parallel with the employee representatives' consultation.
Due to numerous criticisms and uncertainties regarding this obligation, a commission was appointed by the Prime Minister to assess this new process and to find solutions in particular to protect the confidentiality of the proposed sales.
Following discussions with key stakeholders (business representative organizations, employees' unions, banking institutions, etc.), the commission recommends in its report issued end of March to maintain this new right, whilst making some adjustments:
- in case of violation of the information right of, the incurred penalty would no longer be the cancellation of the sale, but a fine proportionate to the sale price;
- in order to simplify the notification requirements to each employee, the date of the first presentation of the registered letter, including when an employee is absent, should be considered as sufficient;
- limit the right of prior information to stricto sensu business sales, which are the only ones that can lead to the transfer of employees (contrary to partial or intragroup sales).
The Minister of Economy stated that these recommendations will be subject to an amendment from the government to the draft act on "growth, activity and economic equal opportunities" law (Macron law) being discussed in the Senate since April 7, 2015.