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How to bring a claim before the French Employment Tribunal?

In France, Employment Tribunals (“Conseil de prud’hommes”) have jurisdiction over all disputes arising from an employment agreement (for example, termination of the contract, unpaid salaries), similar to the Employment tribunals in the UK. However, the procedure to bring a claim before the French Employment Tribunal is different.

The claim is brought before the Employment Tribunal by a request delivered or addressed to the registry of the Employment Tribunal. The claim is made to the Employment Tribunal local to where the employee usually works, or, for remote workers for example, local to where the employee lives.

If the claim regards the performance of the employment agreement, it should be made within two years of the dispute arising. If the claim is about the termination of the employment agreement, it should be made within 12 months of the employment ending.

The claim must contain certain mandatory information mentioned in Article R1452-2 of the French Labour Code, as well as a summary of the facts justifying the request before the Employment Tribunal. The claim is accompanied by any document which the claimant wishes to rely on in support of their claim.

Once the claim is processed by the Employment Tribunal, both parties are summoned before the “Bureau de conciliation et d’orientation” (Conciliation and guidance office) of the Employment Tribunal, where employment counsellors are responsible for the conciliation of the parties, aiming to settle the dispute without having to proceed to a tribunal hearing.

Failing conciliation, the dispute will be heard before the “Bureau de jugement” (Judgment office). The respondent will need to file their written submissions, to which the claimant can respond with their written submissions, before the hearing where both parties will plead their oral arguments. After this hearing, the employment judges make their decision, which will then be communicated to both parties at a later date.

Currently in France, and specifically in the Paris region, due to a significant amount of claims, the average time to obtain a decision from the Employment Tribunal is roughly 2 years from the date of the request.