Emmanuel Macron was recently elected President of France. In Labour matters, he will be assisted by Muriel Pénicaud, recently appointed Minister of Labour and Employment. She was formerly the Director of Human Resources of the French giant Danone. She is therefore very experienced in negotiations with trade unions.
President Macron has exposed his intentions regarding reforming French labour law. He intends to act quickly in the coming months, by using executive ordonnances (presidential decrees), in order to quickly implement labour law reforms. Parliament will still have to allow the use of decrees and to ratify the bills afterwards.
Below are the six main pillars of Emmanuel Macron’s reform plans:
- Reduce employment costs. President Macron wishes to lower employee social security contributions that are deducted from gross pay as well as employer’s social security contributions under certain conditions. His plan is to reduce social security contributions on overtime.
- Simplify the Labour Code. President Macron wishes to reduce the labour code to the fundamentals of labour law (legal working time, minimum wage, the necessity of an employment contract) and leave the rest to industry and company level negotiation. This should offer greater flexibility.
- Promote company collective bargaining agreements. It is planned to promote negotiation at the level of the company, and to limit the scope of industry wide provisions to some matters, the principle behind this being that the company level is for sure the most appropriate to define the rules in relation to working time or other day to day matters.
- Simplify employee representation. Macron is planning to merge the works council, staff representatives and the health and safety committee into a single employee representative body.
- Promote equality. Emmanuel Macron is pushing for the implementation of random testing campaigns in companies to reveal discrimination. A public list of companies that do not comply with the rules on equal pay between men and women will be published.
- Make labour litigation more foreseeable. This was attempted in 2016 but invalidated by the Conseil constitutionnel. The principle measure is to set a cap on the amount of damages that can be awarded by labour courts for unfair dismissal.