Termination procedures and deadline to apply before preliminary meetings

The employer may terminate an employment contract and dismiss an employee for various reasons: for misconduct, for poor performance or for economic reasons or because they are unfit to hold their position.

In some very specific situations, in case of collective redundancies for instance, the employer may make employees redundant without organizing any individual preliminary meeting.

In most situations however, the employee is legally entitled to benefit from a preliminary meeting.

During this meeting, the employer is expected to explain to the employee why their termination is being considered. The employees may be assisted during that meeting.

In order for the employees to get prepared for that meeting and to find somebody to assist them, if they so wish, they need to benefit from a minimum period of time between the first presentation of the invitation to the meeting and the actual date of the meeting.

French law provides for a mimum period of 5 working days between the presentation of the registered letter or hand delivery of the invitation letter and the preliminary meeting (article L. 1232-2 of the French Labour Code).

The French Supreme Court recently heard the case of an employee who claimed for damages for unfair procedure on the ground that she had actually withdrawn the invitation letter from the Post less than five working days before her preliminary meeting.

The French Supreme Court considered that the procedure had been fully complied with by the employer since the letter had been presented to the employee’s home by the postal services more than 5 working days before the meeting. It did not matter that the employee went to fetch the mail at a later date.

This decision is reassuring for employers since it does not leave the regularity of the procedure in the hands of the employees.

Link to the French Supreme Court decision: https://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/juri/id/JURITEXT000048059237?init=true&page=1&query=22-11.661&searchField=ALL&tab_selection=all