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France - Minister considers permanent contracts for agency staff

06 December 2011

The Minister for Employment, Xavier Bertrand, has suggested that France might introduce German-style permanent contracts for agency temporary employees, specialist publication Actuel-RH reports.

Under the current French system, staffing agencies act as agents between the temporary employee and the employer. When the assignment comes to an end, so does the employment.

Under the German system, staffing agencies are the permanent employers of their temporary employees. When the assignment comes to an end and no new assignment can be found, the temporary employee continues to be permanently employed by the staffing agency.

François Roux, President of the Association of Temporary Employment Agencies and HR Services Providers (Prisme), told Actuel-RH "this new type of contract would not apply to all agency staff but would be aimed at qualified workers who are highly sought after and who tend to get one assignment after another."

François Béharel, President of staffing agency Randstad France, commented "in roughly 50 sectors there is such a shortage of staff that we would have no problems offering permanent contracts to agency temporary employees and there would be no risk involved for us."

Béharel mentioned, among others, the construction industry, logistics and food processing. He said "we have a shortage of welders, crane operators, plasterers and lorry drivers."

Béharel believes that between 10% and 15% of agency temporary employees (between 60,000 and 100,000 individuals) could be eligible for a permanent contract.

Roux added "the question is, above all, how to pay for the downtime between assignments? Perhaps we should get inspired by some examples from abroad. In Germany, they have working hour accounts [whereby temporary employees can work extra hours during an assignment, ‘save’ them and then use up the credit of working hours later during downtime]. The credit of hours contributes to the financing of the downtime."

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