Collective Bargaining Agreements France

Collective bargaining can take place at three levels: at the national level, for all employees in the private sector; at sectoral level, which may include national, regional or local negotiations; and at the enterprise or factory level. Since 1 January 2017, the principle has been to give priority to the collective agreement for most working time arrangements over the inter-professional agreement. There is also a new obligation for employers to negotiate appropriate rest periods and annual leave and to follow agreements that respect workers` private and family life. In the absence of an agreement, the employer must clearly define the procedures under which a worker can exercise the “right to disconnect” from any work-related communication. As with branch agreements, there is a legal obligation to regularly negotiate some of these issues at company level (see below), although this depends in part on the size of the company and the existence (or otherwise) of a union representative with whom it is possible to negotiate. Although there are sanctions if these negotiations do not take place, it is important to emphasize that there is no obligation to reach an agreement and sometimes the employer simply listens to the demands of the unions and implements a unilateral decision. In addition to wages (the first theme of collective bargaining at company level – 11,800 agreements in 2017 out of a total of 32,248), the other main themes are working time (8,114 agreements), employment, including the issue of older workers` attachment to work (3,132 agreements) and gender equality (3,817 agreements). It is also a consequence of legislation that obliges the social partners to regularly negotiate gender issues and the employment of older workers. The commitment of the social partners to negotiate is due to the historical environment of labour relations, with companies being required to negotiate each year a number of subjects (wages, working time, work organisation, collective health insurance, financial participation, etc.) or multiannual (gender equality, employment of disabled workers). In general, the obligation is to negotiate, but not to reach an agreement. However, the employer must reach an agreement on equality between men and women or older workers or, if the social partners do not reach an agreement, adopt an action plan. The annual evaluation of collective bargaining, launched by the Ministry of Labour, provides an overview of the main topics that are being negotiated at the sector and company level. .

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