Facts
Decision
Comment


Facts

In this case, an employee was employed as a qualified airport security operator. The employment relationship was governed by the collective bargaining agreement for prevention and security companies and Annex VIII of this collective bargaining agreement. Article 2.5 of the annex provided for the payment of an annual airport security bonus.

As a result of an occupational accident, this employee's contract was suspended as of 20 November 2014. Having not received his annual bonus, the employee lodged a claim in front of the Labour Court for a backpay of his bonus for the years 2015 and 2016, during which his employer had considered that he was not eligible for it given the suspension of his contract.

Decision

The judges ruled in favour of the employer and dismissed the employee's claim on the grounds that, as he had not actually been present in the company from 31 October 2015 and up to 31 October 2016 due to his sick leave, he could not receive the bonus.

However, this analysis was censured by the French Supreme Court in a decision dated 26 October 2022.(1) The Court ruled that the condition of presence of the employee was, by definition, his presence in the company's workforce on 31 October of each year based on a strict application of the collective bargaining agreement provisions.

Comment

This interpretation, which favoured the employee, should encourage employers to be precise when drafting a contractual clause concerning the payment of a bonus. Employers who intend to exclude employees whose contracts are suspended from receiving the bonus should make it clear that the payment of the bonus is conditional on their continuous effective presence in the company.

For further information on this topic please contact Alexandra Tuil or Hélène De Nazelle at Hogan Lovells by telephone (+33 1 53 67 47 47) or email ([email protected] or [email protected]). The Hogan Lovells website can be accessed at www.hoganlovells.com.

Endnotes

(1) No. 21-15.963.