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France – Social partners sign Swedish derogation ‘à la Française’

12 July 2013

Social partners finally agreed on a text, that would set the way, to implementing the Swedish derogation arrangement to the French staffing market. The most qualified temporary agency workers would be offered indefinite duration contracts by the staffing firms in order to be placed with client businesses.

Following a landmark labour agreement in January this year, unions and employers have now been given a deadline running to Wednesday 11th July to negotiate the introduction of permanent contracts in the staffing sector, coined “CDI intérimaire”.

This arrangement can be likened to the Swedish derogation in the UK. The Swedish derogation provides an exemption from current agency workers regulations regarding equal treatment in relation to pay where a worker is employed permanently by a staffing company and continues to be paid a minimum amount, of no less than 50% of their highest pay in the previous 12 weeks or the national minimum wage, between assignments.

This last minute agreement will be widely welcomed by staffing firms as failure to agree on a text before yesterday’s deadline would have kick-started a hike in employer contributions towards the unemployment insurance with an estimated cost of $200 million for the sector. Instead, staffing firms are expected to hire approximately 20,000 highly qualified agency workers on indefinite duration contracts over the next three years.

Between assignments, these workers will still be paid by the staffing firm and receive extra training. To the trade unions’ request, the staffing association Prism’Emploi has agreed to provide extra work to those not benefiting from the “CDI intérimaire”. The sector will offer an extra 40 hours of assignment to every temporary agency worker already spending at least 800 hours per year on assignment. The measure is believe to benefit to approximately 80,000 temporary agency workers, with an estimated cost between €60 and €70 million for the staffing industry.

The agreement will have to be examined by the government, in order to establish whether its implementation would require changes in the Labour Code.

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