PARIS (Reuters) - The French government of President Emmanuel Macron hopes to enact labour reforms in the coming months, building on ones the previous government forced through parliament in 2016 against street protests and broad, but not unanimous, opposition form labour unions.
The thrust is to allow a wider range of conditions to be set in the workplace rather than at sectoral level. Another goal is to set minimum/maximum compensation awards in unfair dismissal cases and speed up labour tribunal processing of such cases.
The “El Khomri” labour reform law adopted in 2016 ran into stiff opposition from several labour unions whose main argument was that it undermined the primacy of France’s Labour Code - a body of laws and standards built up over the past 200 years.
The new reforms go further. Here are key elements:
Goal is to introduce a lengthy list of issues which can be set at company level.
The El Khomri law introduced the possibility of opting out of sector-wide agreements to set overtime pay rates and the new reform would extend the list of opt-outs to other areas.
On Tuesday, the government did not say which issues those would be and that will be the subject of negotiations with unions.
Goal is to cap unfair dismissal compensation awards and cut the time taken to reach verdicts in labour tribunals. The argument is that employers need more visibility on time and cost of disputed dismissals and will be less reticent to recruit if they have that.
Attempts to include this in past years were dropped because the constitutional court first struck down the measure on technical grounds and the previous Socialist government later decided to push other elements of the reform through instead.
Goal is to promote recourse to workplace accords that opt out of sector-wide collective bargaining terms, and to do so by promoting recourse to approval of company-level agreements by a workplace referendum.
The 2016 El Khomri reform allows - in cases where a company-level deal on pay and conditions does not muster enough union backing - for workplace accords to be adopted by referendum, as long as it is called by a union.
The aim now is to generalise that course of action by giving employers the right to call a referendum.
The goal is to reduce the number of in-house forums via which employees are consulted on issues ranging from work hours and conditions to health and safety.
The government said its aim was to merge at least three of the current four bodies.
June 28: bill allowing the government to pass executive decrees on the labour reform to be presented to cabinet
Summer: parliament to discuss and vote on the bill
Before Sept. 21: executive decrees to be published
Spring 2018: separate bill to reform the unemployment insurance system and vocational training to be reviewed by parliament
Later in 2018: pension reform
Reporting by Brian Love; Editing by Michel Rose and Robin Pomeroy