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France – Court rules against illegal use of agency workers

12 June 2012

A recent court decision by an appeal court of Douai in Northern France has confirmed an earlier ruling in 2010 by a labour court in Bethune against the automobile manufacturer Plastic Omnium over the “excessive use of temporary workers”, La Voix du Nord reports.

The newspaper also reports that the employment agencies which were involved in the case include Randstad and Adia, which is part of the Adecco Group. Legal actions against the staffing firms have not been ruled out, according to the paper.

Plastic Omnium had hired 13 temporary agency workers who, when counted together, had worked at the firm for 74 years. They were among the hundred temporary workers who were suddenly dismissed in late 2007 and decided to file a lawsuit against the firm in 2008.

In October 2010, the labour court in Bethune ruled that the use of temporary workers at the company was “excessive” and illegal as in France legal requirements state that there has to be a clear reason why temporary agency workers are used whereas in this case the firm seemed to have simply renewed the contracts of the workers before eventually dismissing them.

According to Article L1251-6 of the French Labour Code, agency workers may be used to face a temporary surge in activity or to cover for seasonal work, or sectors that don’t traditionally hire on a permanent basis. Assignments are usually limited to 18 months (including a renewal, which can only happen once), but can sometimes be extended to 24 months under certain conditions.

The court in Douai has now reconfirmed the earlier ruling and the temporary workers will now be paid compensation of approximately €30,000 per employee. 

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