Collective agreements are very widespread in France. They modify the rules of general labour legislation. For this reason, a Polish employer who wants to post workers to France should determine whether such an agreement applies in a given case and what its content is.

1. What are collective agreements?

Collective agreements constitute written arrangements concluded by employers with employees’ trade unions. They consist of the basic text whis is enriched by annexes over time.

The purpose of collective agreements is to adapt labour law to the specificity of various work sectors. Therefore, their provisions concern in particular conditions of employment, working conditions, training, employee social guarantees. Very often, collective agreements include provisions specifying working conditions and gratuities for employees that aren’t regulated in the Labour Code. For example, they grant employees additional bonuses and severance payments, they modify working time (e.g. it may be shorter than 35 hours/week), provide for additional leaves, etc.

2. Who do collective agreements apply to?

The provisions of the collective agreement apply to all employees engaged on the basis of an employment contract in the company where the document is in force. The type of employment contract under which the employee perfoms work doesn’t matter. In other words, the provisions of the collective agreement concern workers engaded by the company in question under a contract for an indefinite period, as well as under a fixed-term and probationary contract (période d’essai).

In the event that a company is covered by a collective agreement, the parties to the employment relationship can’t derogate from its provisions. Therefore, it isn’t possible to resign from the obligations and privileges guaranteed by an agreement in question.

3. What is the scope of collective agreements?

Collective agreements can cover specific geographical areas. On this basis, it’s possible to distinguish between national, regional or departmental agreements. The scope of such an arrangement may also depend on the nature of the work. This allows to distinguish between professional, sectoral or corporate agreements.

4. Validity of collective agreements

The period of validity of the collective agreement should be indicated in its content.

As a rule, these agreements are concluded for an indefinite period. They may also be signed for a fixed period. However, if the content of such an arrangement doesn’t contain information about its duration, it’s assumed that it’s valid for a period of 5 years.

5. How to determine the appropriate agreement?

In France, collective agreements are more widespread than in Poland. Their multitude creates serious problems in determining which arrangement is applicable in a given case. In order to establish the appropriate agreement, it’s necessary to take into account the subject of the company’s main activity. The APE code is helpful in this field. Collective agreements contain a list of APE codes that allow entrepreneurs to determine which arrangement they are subject to.

The APE code, or activité principale exercée, is the same as the NAF code (nomenclature d’activité française). It’s assigned by the National Institute of Statistics: L’Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques, Insee in short. It’s the French equivalent of GUS (Główny Urząd Statystyczny – Central Statistical Office).

In that respect, it should be noted that any modification concerning the company’s business profile requires a change of the APE code. In this case, it’s necessary to submit to the relevant INSEE branch an application for a change which includes a percentage specification of all types of activities carried out.

In practice, it’s assumed that the main activity of a trading company is the one that generates the highest turnover. As regards an industrial company, the determinant of the main activity constitutes the employment level criterion, i.e. the activity requiring the employment of the largest number of workers. On the other hand, the main activity of an industrial/commercial establishment is that which accounts for at least 25% of the total turnover of the enterprise.

The multitude of collective agreements has resulted in the creation of a central search engine for these arrangements. It’s available at: .

6. Information obligation

The employer is obliged to inform the worker about being subject to a specific collective agreement. This information should be given to the employee in writing at the time of the conclusion of the employment contract.

7. CSE

The employer is also obliged to deliver the collective agreement to Comité social et économiques CSE, CSE in short. The primary responsibility of CSE is to represent the interests of workers. CSE conducts a dialogue with the employer in the field of, among others, salaries, collective agreements, respect of workers’ rights. CSE has also to deal with investigations concerning accidents at work and to monitor compliance with health and safety regulations.

In order to create CSE in an enterprise, the company shall engage at least 11 persons within 12 consecutive months. In the event that employment falls below the minimum treshold, the term of office of CSE isn’t renewed.

The committee shall consist of the employer and delegates of employees. The election of delegates is secret. It takes place every four years, within 90 days of informing workers.

A person who wants to candidate for CSE must fulfil the following conditions:

  • he/she has to be of a legal age,
  • his/her seniority in the company should be at least one year,
  • he/she can’t be related to the employer by family ties, nor have a relationship with the employer other than that of employee-employer (e.g. he/she can’t a cohabitee, connected by family and blood relations, etc.),
  • he/she hasn’t been deprived of the right to vote.

A person has the active right to vote for the CSE if:

  • he/she is over 16 years old,
  • he/she enjoys his/her full rights as a citizen,
  • he/she has at least 3 months of work experience in the employer’s company.

CSE also includes a trade union delegate, the so-called DS – Le délégué syndical. However, this occurs only in the event that the representative association has created a trade union section.

The tasks of a trade union delegate include active participation in collective bargaining and representation of his/her union before the employer.

8. Legal notice

The study is a work within the meaning of the Act of 4 February 1994 on Copyright and Related Rights (OJ 2006, No. 90, item 631, consolidated text, as amended). Publishing or reproducing this study or its part, quoting opinions, as well as disseminating in any other way the information contained therein without the written consent of Crede sp. z o.o. is prohibited.

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