In a decision dated 17 March 2021 (n°19-11.114), the French Supreme Court underlined the scope of the employer’s redeployment obligation in case of redundancies.
During the redundancy process, the employer company is under the obligation to look for redeployment positions :
- Within the employer company and, if is part of a group, in companies of the group whose activities, organisation or business locations allow switching all or part of the staff, even if these companies are not part of the same business sector;
- Located in France.
The redeployment search must be carried out on all positions available that are of the same professional category as the eliminated positions. The positions must be consistent with the redundant employees’ profiles. If the employer must adapt the employee to new responsibilities pertaining to the redeployment opportunity offered, this adaptation is however limited to a mere additional training, easy and of short duration, allowing the employee to be quickly operational.
In this Supreme Court case, a transportation company belonging to a group restructured its activity and made several employees redundant under a job-protection plan.
8 employees made redundant filed a claim before the Labour Court to challenge their terminations.
For 3 of them, the Court of Appeal found that the redundancies were unfair due to the following failures in the employer company’s redeployment obligation:
- The company, when searching for available redeployment positions, informed the other companies of the group of the job eliminations but only shared with them the job titles and classifications of the impacted positions, without providing any concrete detail regarding the employees who were holding these positions, in particular in terms of age, training, experience, qualification and length of service;
- The company did not offer the 3 employees made redundant to be redeployed as a driver, a position which was available in one of the business units, arguing that these employees did not have the necessary qualification (i.e. a specific category of driving licence) to hold such position.
The French Supreme Court overturned the decision of the Court of Appeal on the following grounds:
- Regarding the search for available positions within companies of the group, the Supreme Court said that this search did not have to be come with the personalised profile of the employees concerned by the redeployment search. The Court of Appeal, by stating that the letters of redeployment were precise enough, should have validated the research carried out by the employer;
- Regarding the driver position, the Supreme Court underlined that if the employer does have the obligation to ensure the adaption of employees to the evolution of their job, if necessary by providing them with an additional training, it does not have to provide them with the initial training that they would not have. For the Supreme Court, holding a specific type of driving licence should be considered as initial training: therefore, it considered that the employer company fulfilled its redeployment obligation, regardless of the fact that it did not offer the driver position to the 3 employees made redundant.
To go further in understanding French regulations regarding redundancies and, in particular, job protection plans in France, MGG Voltaire will guide you – in English – through the rules and principles and lead you through the main legal provisions governing social plans in France.
This 90-minute training webinar by Loïc Héron and Paul Romatet will take place on April 14 2021 at 6pm CET.
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