PARIS – The French government's contested labor reform has brought tens of thousands of demonstrators to the streets in recent weeks and forced the prime minister to face a no-confidence vote on Thursday at the lower house of parliament. Here are some key measures in the text, from working hours to the right for employees to disconnect from emails and smartphones.
The bill formally maintains the 35-hour workweek, but it allows companies to organize alternative working time. Workers would be able to put in a 48-hour workweek or 12-hour shifts during a temporary period. In case of "exceptional circumstances," employees could work up to 60 hours a week. One measure would allow employees to work more than 35 hours without being paid overtime, for a limited period of time. In exchange, they would have more days off. This measure is aimed at allowing companies to adapt to business booms and off-peak periods.
WEAKEN SOME UNION POWERS
The reform would allow businesses not to follow industry-wide union agreements if they have their own specific company deal instead — as long as it is negotiated with union representatives. Workers' unions opposed to the law fear the company deals could be less protective for employees.
RIGHT TO DISCONNECT
The law aims at helping employees apply their "right to disconnect." Companies of more than 50 people would need to negotiate a "charter of good conduct" with union representatives. The text would detail the hours, usually in the evening and over the weekend, when employees are not expected to be connected to their "digital tools," from emails to smartphones and laptops. In companies of less than 50 people, employers would have to release a document detailing the rules.
The government wants to "clarify" the motives allowing layoffs in businesses of less than 300 employees in case of financial difficulties — such as a drop in orders, or lower revenue for several consecutive quarters. The idea is to limit lawsuits from fired employees and create more flexibility for employers, in the hope that makes businesses less afraid to hire.
HELPING THE YOUNG
For young people who have no financial resources, no work, are not students and are not in training, the state would provide a 461-euro ($527) monthly allowance and help them look for a job.