BEERG: French Government to Seek Labor Law Changes

June 23, 2017

After his party won an absolute majority in the National Assembly following the recent French elections, President Emmanuel Macron theoretically has a clear path to enacting labor reforms he proposed during his election campaign.  According to the BEERG Global Labor Newsletter, President Macron aims to make three key changes to the labor code through a special legislative process that provides a shortcut to enactment but requires Assembly approval:

  • Facilitating enterprise-level collective bargaining while not abandoning sectoral level bargaining; 
  • Consolidating workplace representation structures into one body; and 
  • Placing a floor and a ceiling for dismissal payments by the employment tribunals. 
Despite the likelihood of strong labor opposition, the government is confident that it will be able to institute the new ordinances by September, after a round of meetings with social partners.  As BEERG notes: "Street protests only work when they have leverage to force a government to change its mind.  Normally, this leverage comes from terrifying politicians that they will lose their seat at the next election.  With the next Presidential and Assembly elections five years away that is unlikely to work.  And Macron does not look like a president who will bow easily to pressure.  On his way to the presidency he smashed the traditional parties of right and left.  He has created a new 'alignment of political forces,' as the French would put it.  He is unlikely to be fazed by unions deeply wedded to outdated traditions."  View the full BEERG Newsletter here.