Law no. 2015-994 of 17 August 2015 relating to social dialogue and employment (the so-called ‘Rebsamen law’) implemented a significant number of measures designed to simplify employer/staff representatives’ relationships, and more particularly, the organisation of staff representatives’ meetings.
Changes in the way staff representatives’ meetings should be conducted have been in force since 15 April this year, after the entry into force of Decree no. 2016-453 of 12 April 2016, relating to certain modalities of conducting the meetings.
The organisation of staff representatives’ meetings The decree of 12 April 2016 provides more detail on the changes made by the Rebsamen law on the organisation of staff representatives’ meetings, such as (i) organising meetings by videoconference, (ii) recording or shorthand note-taking of meetings, and (iii) circulating meeting minutes, and their content.
Organisation of staff representatives’ meetings through videoconference Rebsamen law provides that staff representatives’ meetings may be held by videoconference, if agreed by the employer company and staff representatives. In the absence of such an agreement, the employer company may decide to organise three meetings by videoconference on a unilateral basis throughout a calendar year.
The decree provides more detail on how to organise meetings held by videoconference. It provides in particular that:
- The used technical device must enable the staff representatives’ to identify themselves and to confirm their effective attendance
- The confidentiality of the vote must be ensured in secret ballots (this applies to the recruitment and dismissal of the occupational doctor or the dismissal of a ‘protected employee’ i.e. an employee having a staff representative mandate).
The facility to record the meetings or use stenography The decree specifies that the employer company or the staff representatives may decide on a unilateral basis to record the meetings or use stenography.
However, the employer company can refuse it if the meeting addresses confidential information.
In addition, the decree provides that if the recording of the meeting or the note-taking is done by a person who is not an employee of the company, the latter is bound by the confidentiality obligation provided for by Article L. 2325-5 of the French Employment Code.
If the employer company requests that the meeting be recorded or that someone takes notes in shorthand, it will have to bear the associated costs, unless otherwise agreed with the staff representatives.
Contents of the minutes of the works councils’ meetings and deadline for circulating them to the employer company The French Employment Code provides that the deadline to circulate the minutes of works councils’ meetings to the employer company is determined by an agreement between the employer company and the staff representatives.
In the absence of such an agreement, the decree provides that the secretary of the works council must circulate the minutes within 15 days following the meeting. If the meeting relates to potential redundancies that would trigger the implementation of an Employment Safeguard Plan (a so-called ‘Social Plan’, where a company employing at least 50 people is considering making at least 10 employees redundant within a 30-day period), the minutes must then be circulated within three days following the meeting (one day if the employer company is subject to a collective proceeding).
If a new meeting is scheduled to take place within this deadline, the minutes of the first meeting will need to be circulated to the employer company before the new meeting.
The decree also specifies the minimum content of the minutes, in the absence of an agreement between the employer company and the works council. The minutes should at least contain a summary of the discussions and the responses of the employer company to suggestions made by staff representatives during the last meeting.