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Reform of the social model: the freedom to choose one’s professional future (in French “Liberté de choisir son avenir professionnel”)

Latest News Reform of the social model: the freedom to choose one’s professional future (in French “Liberté de choisir son avenir professionnel”)

The new bill for the freedom to choose one’s professional future, also referred to as the second part of the reform of the social model after the Macron orders and known as “Pénicaud II”, has finally been adopted by the French Parliament last 1 August 2018.

However, three actions have immediately been introduced before the Constitutional Council and thus the law will probably only be promulgated at the beginning of September 2018.

The aim of the reform is to give each employee the freedom to choose his/her own development path to enhance his/her business potential.

The reform covers the following main points:

  • The personal training account (in French “Compte personnel de formation”) introduced in January 2015 will from 1 January 2019 be credited in Euros whilst at today’s date it is credited in hours. The hours accrued at 31 December 2018 will be converted into Euros and the figures will be soon set out by decree.The aim is that such an account becomes the main tool of development of the employee’s skills. The holder of the account will now be able to choose and pay directly for his/her training courses.
  • The apprenticeship agreement is in principle aimed at young people who follow work/study training programmes in order to obtain a diploma. The age limit was previously 25 years old but it has now been increased to 29. Such an agreement can be agreed for a minimum period of 6 months and maximum period of 3 years subject to a few cases where further extension is allowed. It is also possible from March 2018 for an apprentice to perform part of his/her contract abroad for a maximum period of a year. The new bill has specified that the training course could be undertaken even outside the EU provided notably that the initial contract be performed in France for a duration of at least 6 months. In addition, it has simplified the possibilities of termination of such an agreement by allowing the employer to terminate the contract in specific cases notably serious misconduct, physical inability to work, force majeure etc.
  • The principle of equal opportunities has long since been recognised by law. That said, in real terms there still exists a difference of 10% between the average level of salary of a man and a woman for an equivalent position. The bill requires employers of at least 50 people to measure the difference of salary and to adopt any requisite adjustment measures at the latest on 1 January 2020 (for companies employing between 50 and 250 people) and at the latest on 1 January 2019 (for companies employing more than 250 people). If the results after a three-year period are still underneath the level set out by decree, the companies could receive a fine.
  • The fight against sexual harassment is also covered by the bill. In companies of at least 250 people, an advisor should be appointed in order to guide, inform and accompany employees. In smaller companies of at least 11 employees, such a role should be carried out by the staff representatives (social and economic committee). In very small companies of less than 11 people, the Regional joint interprofessional commission would in principle handle such a mission.Employers will now have to post, on the work premises and in the place where employment is performed, the civil and criminal actions open to employees in the event of sexual harassment as well as the details of the appropriate authorities and agencies (which will be set out by decree). This obligation is in addition to the current obligation of the employer to post the criminal sanctions applicable in the event of sexual harassment.
  • Measures to encourage employment: on an experimental basis, it will be possible from 1 January 2019 to 31 December 2020 to agree to a sole fixed-term contract to replace several employees in the sectors described by decree (once it is published). That said, this should not have as object or effect to provide for a position related to the normal and permanent activities of the company.
  • The threshold to put in place the social and economic committee – employees employed under an occupational integration contract (in French “contrat unique d’insertion”) should be included in the company’s headcount to assess the threshold of implementation of staff representatives.
  • Employee unemployment contributions and charges currently at a rate of 0.95% will no longer be applicable from 1 January 2019. In any event, as from 1 October to 31 December 2018, such contributions will be suspended such that employees will no longer contribute to the unemployment insurance scheme.
  • Employer unemployment contributions and charges will be amended and will vary according to the sector of activity of the company and the number of terminations of contracts resulting in the registration of the employee with the unemployment agency.
  • Employees who resign from their position will as from 1 January 2019 be able to benefit from unemployment benefits provided that the decision of resignation is taken within the framework of a project for a real and serious career change. That said, there are a few steps to be taken in order to verify whether or not the career change is indeed real and serious.
  • Independent workers strictly set out by the employment code could from 1 January 2019 benefit from unemployment benefits provided an insolvency proceeding has been opened or they have been put into liquidation.