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Lay offs and redundancies in France - dismissals on economic grounds

Whilst this list should not be held to be exhaustive, the following points might be of particular comparative interest to practitioners or employers used to the quite different provisions of many Common Law systems.

Employment in France is not 'at will' and thus dismissals may only come about on demonstrably and limited objective grounds which must be brought to the attention of the employee in writing.

Dismissals are subject to stringent, and often bureaucratic, procedural statutory constraints.

Redundancies, or lay-offs on economic grounds, are subject to separate and complex procedural and substantive constraints particularly in the case of multiple dismissals.

Legislative changes in 2002 mean that French Law is fast moving towards a situation where in essence the French entity (as opposed to the group to which it may belong) must be in a sufficiently severe economic situation to justify laying off staff or making them redundant.

There are a number of French State Agencies which have a statutory right to be advised of, and in some cases to authorise, proposed dismissals by private sector employers.

It is extremely easy and at virtually no cost for an employee to start litigation against his (ex) employer before separate Labour Courts.

Labour Relations Courts (Conseils de Prud'hommes) are generally made up of lay judges who are elected from the ranks of employer/employee organisations.

It is rare that the plaintiff be other than an employee and just as rare that claims be dismissed with no award whatsoever being made against the employer.

Lay offs and redundancies in France - severance or redundancy pay

There is no standard simple method for calculating severance pay under French employment law and there are many different variables involved.

In the first instance it will be necessary to establish whether or not the employee is a 'cadre' or another type of salaried employee.

Then, for example, the collective bargaining agreement to which the entity and the employee are subject will have to be consulted.

Once the above points have been dealt with, the grounds for dismissal will have to be examined in that the severance pay linked to dismissal for the different levels of misconduct may be very different indeed from the amount of severance pay flowing from a dismissal made on economic grounds.

Only at this stage do criteria relating to the individual come into play, for example number of years' service, age upon dismissal etc. and these factors may bring about a further difference in the amount payable upon severance.

That said, Triplet & Associés would be more than pleased to assist you in calculating the close approximate amount in Euros of severance pay for one or more employees.

To do so we shall simply need photocopies of each individual employee's pay slip for the past six months (i.e. the pay slip itself not a financial summary of payments made) sent by facsimile to Clare Axby in our Employment Law Department (confidential direct fax line + 33 3 20 54 09 09).

The foregoing is not intended to be exhaustive and for specific information relating to lay offs and redundancies in France please click here  .

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