By Caroline Blanchard-Crego , Firm: Capstan Avocats

A proposed new law would require companies with at least 50 employees in France to negotiate new measures to improve employee mobility, in particular by subsidising the use of green modes of transport for commuting.

A draft law on the orientation of mobility (LOM) was adopted at first reading by the National Assembly on 18 June 2019 and aims to reform the general framework of mobility policies.

In addition to numerous measures to transform the right to transport into a right to mobility, to massively develop car-sharing and reduce the impact of mobility on the environment, article 26 of the draft law provides for a new mandatory negotiating point to be added to compulsory annual negotiations between trade union delegates and company management on equality between women and men and quality of life at work. This relates to measures to improve the mobility of employees between home and work.

The current legal framework

As a reminder, article 51 of the Energy Transition Law for Green Growth of 17 August 2015 stipulates that, within the scope of an urban travel plan (PDU), all companies with more than 100 employees on the same site must draw up, as from 1 January 2018, a mobility plan (PDM) to improve the mobility of its employees and encourage alternative modes of transport to the private car, such as public transport and car-sharing.

This system is not strictly binding, as the only sanction available for non-compliance is the removal of technical and financial support from the Environment and Energy Management Agency (ADEME). While this support can amount to several million euros for large groups benefiting from specific subsidies, it is however marginal or even non-existent for most companies. To date, the system has therefore not had the expected effect.

The proposed future legal framework

Since most companies subject to the obligation to set up a PDM have not done so, the legislator plans to go a little further in the obligation imposed on employers to transform its employees’ travel.

Article 26 of the LOM draft law provides for the addition of a new mandatory negotiating point to Article L. 2242-17 of the Labour Code on annual negotiations on the quality of life at work, as follows:

‘measures to improve the mobility of employees between their place of habitual residence and their place of work, in particular by reducing the cost of mobility, by encouraging the use of environmentally friendly modes of transport and by covering the costs mentioned in Articles L. 3261-3 and L.3261-3-1 of this code,’ (that is, fuel, bicycle and carpooling costs).

The text specifies that this obligation would only apply to:

  • companies subject to the annual negotiation obligation (that is, companies with at least 50 employees and trade union representatives); and
  • which have at least 50 employees employed on the same site.

Finally, the parallel amendment to the transport code specifies that, failing agreement, these companies should draw up an ‘employer’ mobility plan at the company's various sites to improve staff mobility. It would then be a matter of developing a real action plan.

‘Mobility vouchers': A new way to implement the PDM

Although the PDM as initially conceived related to all travel generated by the company's activity (including home to workplace commuting, business travel, customer and supplier travel), the obligation resulting from the Labour Code now refocuses the obligation on employees' travel between their home and their workplace.

This PDM can include a whole set of measures, such as those aimed at:

  • ensuring the promotion of cycling;
  • encouraging the use of public transport;
  • adapting working hours;
  • encouraging carpooling.

To facilitate this type of measure, the new bill also provides for the creation, from 1 January 2020, of a ‘sustainable mobility package’, which would allow companies to reimburse their employees for part of their home to work travel expenses if they use an environmentally sound mode of transport such as cycling or carpooling. This flat rate would be exempt from income tax and social security contributions up to a maximum of EUR 400 per year, including a maximum of EUR 200 for the cost of supplying a vehicle (fuel, electricity).

To be continued...