A young craftsman

Labour Law Reform

In close consultation with social partners, the Government is introducing a bill to strengthen social dialogue by Ordinance. The Enabling Bill seeks to give greater equality, freedom and security to employees as well as business owners by strengthening social dialogue. In a rapidly changing world of work, it aims to bring about the convergence of social and economic performance.


Giving precedence to micro-businesses and SMEs

  • Simplify and enable easier access to collective bargaining for micro-businesses and SMEs by allowing direct negotiation, on all subjects, with an elected staff representative for SMEs or with employees for micro-businesses that do not have elected staff representatives.
  • Allow access to a clear and easy-to-understand digital labour code, which addresses actual questions raised by business leaders and employees of micro-businesses/SMEs.
  • Establish an imperative scale of damages which provides security and visibility with regard to potential disputes.
  • Reform the rules governing dismissals such that procedural improprieties no longer override substance, all the while protecting employees' rights. A standard form setting out the rights and duties of each party will be created to avoid procedural errors during a dismissal.
  • Remove the non-applicable red tape in terms of arduous work declarations.
  • Clarify the rules governing disputes in cases of work incapacity.
  • Stipulate specific provisions which factor in the reality of micro-businesses/SMEs; this will be a new obligation for sector-level agreements.
  • Finance the wages and travel expenses of employees in micro-businesses/SMEs who take part in sector-level negotiations, through collective funding.

Showing trust in businesses and employees by giving them the ability to anticipate and adapt simply, swiftly and securely

  • Enable anticipation and swift adaptation to market trends through simplified majority agreements on working hours, pay and mobility.
  • Expand the scope where negotiation is possible for businesses by enabling greater involvement on the part of the stakeholders: employees, staff representatives and the company manager.
  • Merge the three information and consultation bodies into one – the social and economic council (CSE) – for all businesses with over 50 employees so that social dialogue becomes simpler and more operational.
  • Increase the possibility of promoting social dialogue and joint crafting of the strategy with the employees and their representatives by setting up, on the basis of a majority agreement, a works council bringing together all of the staff representation duties (information, consultation, negotiation).
  • Establish contractual termination by mutual consent at collective level. This involves extending the possibility of contractual termination by mutual consent, introduced following interbranch negotiations in 2008, to the collective level.
  • Regulate expert appraisals, by setting a fixed-rate financial participation of 20% of the cost of expert appraisals by the CSE for ad hoc expert appraisals (with the exception of those bearing on the job preservation plan [PSE] and serious risks, which shall continue to be borne fully by the employer).
  • Underpin fixed-term contracts (CDDs) with rules corresponding to the specific characteristics of activity sectors, which are negotiated and set up by sector-level agreement, as part of the new sector-wide remit on job quality and management.
  • Access project-based contracts by negotiating sector-level agreements which set the rules for being able to sign this type of contract. Such contracts give an employee the same rights and protection as a permanent employee (on a CDI) and an employment guarantee that is generally longer than the maximum term of a fixed-term contract, as well as assurances that s/he will receive compensation when the project comes to an end.
  • Obtain a scope for assessing economic grounds which is determined at national level, as is the norm in most other European countries.
  • Scrap unnecessary, contentious obligations and streamline the redeployment procedures.
  • Harmonise the time-limits for instituting proceedings at one year in the event of a dispute over a contract of employment termination.

Creating new rights and new forms of protection for employees

  • Set up French-style collective decision-making on vocational training or gender equality in particular, in businesses that set up the works council by majority agreement.
  • Push for enterprise-level agreements to become majority agreements from 1 May 2018.
  • Render the right to teleworking more secure and flexible for a better work-life balance.
  • Raise the legal severance pay by 25%.
  • Foster predictability, fairness and protection in the event of disputes with the employer, by setting a lower and upper limit for damages.
  • Supplement the individual training account with an extra 100 hours, financed by the employer, should the employee refuse a majority agreement signed by the trade unions bearing on working hours or pay. The employee will benefit from additional training entitlements so as to be able to train and find another job, in addition to receiving unemployment benefits.
  • Extend the remit of sectors to ensure greater fairness between employees in the same sector.
  • Develop the transparency and fairness of redeployment procedures through access to all of the jobs available in the company.

Enabling trade unions and elected staff representatives that engage in social dialogue to access new guarantees

  • Guarantee the means and bolster training for exercising mandates.
  • Improve access to vocational training and skills assessment so as to be able to combine trade union involvement with professional development.
  • Make it easier to be able to appoint a trade union delegate.
  • Create an Observatory on Collective Bargaining. This observatory will provide information about progress as regards negotiations, elected representatives and trade union delegates.
  • Increase the possibilities for elected staff representatives and trade union delegates to progress with the aim of joining the labour inspectorate (via a competitive enrolment process).
  • Call on a network of voluntary universities and grandes écoles (prestigious higher education institutions) to train trade union activists every year.


Designed to organise labour relations in large industrial companies, our labour law no longer fully responds to the economic realities associated with globalisation, company and sector diversity, new technologies and employees’ expectations. It creates rigidities and inequalities that constitute obstacles to initiative and recruitment.

This does not mean denying the principles and values to which French people are attached, nor does it mean imposing a model imported from abroad. The Government is seeking to renew the labour code by modernising the rights and obligations of employees and employers while upholding its foundations and principles.

28 November 2017: the National Assembly votes the ratification bill of the Ordinances

22 September 2017: presentation and adoption of the Ordinances in the Council of Ministers

1st fortnight of September: talks with the consultative bodies

31 August 2017: presentation by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Labour of the draft Ordinances to the social partners at Matignon, the Prime Minister's official residence

22 August 2017: talks with the social partners at the Ministry of Labour
2 August 2017: after a final vote of the Senate, Parliament passes the bill authorising the Government to legislate by Ordinance
1 August 2017:  the National Assembly passes the Enabling Bill

24, 25 & 27 July 2017: talks between the Prime Minister, Minister of Labour and social partners at Matignon, the Prime Minister’s official residence
10 July 2017: the National Assembly begins examining the Enabling Bill
6 July 2017: the Enabling Bill is passed in committee at the National Assembly (see the press pack - Strengthening social dialogue)
28 June 2017: the Enabling Bill is presented to the Council of Ministers (see the press pack - Strengthening social dialogue)
14 June 2017: the Enabling Bill is sent to the Council of State
From 9 June to 28 July 2017: 48 working and consultation meetings between the Government and social partners
From 24 May to 31 May 2017: meetings at Matignon between the Prime Minister, the Minister of Labour and social partners to discuss the method and main aspects of the labour reform and also to gather their opinions
23 May 2017: meetings at the Élysée Palace between the President of the Republic and social partners