France's conservative-led Senate has approved a pro-business economic reform bill that the Socialist government has promoted despite a rebellion within its own ranks.

Senators approved the bill Tuesday by 185 votes to 44.

During the debate in the National Assembly, the lower house, in February, the government had had to invoke special powers to push through the reform without a vote to counter a rebellion from some Socialist parliamentarians.

The reform is now to be discussed by a commission composed of parliamentarians from both houses.

If they fail to find an agreement, the National Assembly has the final say. The government is allowed to use its special powers again.

The bill includes a patchwork of measures including allowing more stores to open on Sundays and evenings and reducing workplace protections.