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France – Postal services lose historical misclassification case

02 April 2013

The French postal service, La Poste, was sentenced to a record high fine for an employment contract misclassification case, according to a ruling by the Toulouse appeal court pronounced on Thursday 28 March.

The court established that La Poste had hired a worker on successive fixed-term contracts (CDD) over the course of 22 years, and was requested to pay as much as €54,000 to the worker and reclassify the employment relationship as an indefinite duration contract (CDI).

According to the trade union representative Thomas Barba, “since it was allowed to use fixed-term workers in 1991, the then public company abused CDDs”, and adding, ”La Poste agreed to the initial ruling by the Labour Court, but only agreed to pay fines on the basis of part-time CDI, so we brought the case to the Court of Appeal.”

In France, the use of fixed-term contracts (CDD) is highly regulated. According to the Labour Law, CDD contracts can only be used to replace an absent worker, deal with an unexpected increase in activity, or if the occupation does not traditionally use permanent workers (such as seasonal work); finally a CDD should be aimed at completing a specific and well defined project. 

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