The SYNTEC Collective Bargaining Agreement (SYNTEC) was recently amended further to court decisions in 2013 which invalidated the 218-day working time scheme since it did not ensure that employees were benefitting from sufficient periods of rest. The amendment made to SYNTEC on April 1, 2014 (which had not yet been extended to all companies under SYNTEC but only those affiliated to a signatory trade union), caused uproar since the worldwide press misinterpreted this amendment as requiring employees to switch off their email devices at 6pm.   

On June 26, 2014 this SYNTEC amendment was extended to apply to all companies under SYNTEC, by January 4, 2015, at the latest.  

The main changes are the following:

  • The employer must verify that employees "disconnect" from work calls and emails to ensure they receive the full minimum statutory rest periods (notably 11 hours rest per day (note there is no specific time employees are required to "switch off");

  • The employer must also verify the employee's workload to ensure the employee's work/life balance;

  • The employer must invite the employee to an individual meeting at least twice a year to discuss working time and/or work/life balance;

  • The employer must implement a reliable and detailed working day monitoring mechanism to monitor the actual number of days worked by employees.

SYNTEC provides that these conditions must be clearly detailed in the employee's employment agreement (or in an addendum to the agreement). Although this obligation will only become mandatory for all companies on January 4, 2015, compliant employment agreements and monitoring mechanisms should be implemented as from now for current employees and new hires.  

Note that if the employer does not comply with these obligations, the global remuneration scheme (“forfait jour”) would be unenforceable against the employee who could therefore potentially demand the payment of overtime as the case may be.