Redundancy process in France

I am looking for some guidance on the process and timeline to follow for a redundancy of a single employee in France. Our contract with our client is expiring and the role that this employee does is ceasing. 

As I understand it we must first call him (by registered post) to a preliminary meeting to explain the reason for this redundancy. What happens next? LOS is 4 years 10 months and I am not sure what his notice period/severence will be? Also I believe there is an obligation to offer him CSP (Professional Securisation Contract).

Any guidance would be much appreaciated

kind regards,


  • Suzy,

    Redundancy per se doesn't exist in French employment law, although the notion of "dismissal for economic reasons" (licenciement économique) comes close to it.
    Step 1) calculate up your economic case for ending employment, so that you can demonstrate the facts to the person. This includes demonstrating that there are no suitable alternative positions that they could be considered for.

    Step 2) Formally call them to a "Preliminary meeting for dismissal purposes" (entretien préalable au lilcenciement). At this stage, you must go no further than informing the person that dismissal for economic reasons is being considered by the company - under no circumstances should it be presented as a fait accompli, or you will have to start all over again. The person should be called to the meeting by recorded delivery letter - no alternatives are possible. The letter is legally deemed delivered on the day the postman first attempts to deliver it. You should leave a week between sending the letter and undertaking the preliminary meeting. You should listen to any reasons why the person thinks that dismissal for economic reasons can be avoided, and if necessary counter them

    Step 3) To demonstrate that you have given full consideration to the meeting contents, wait a couple of days and send a letter formally dismissing the person for economic reasons, and outline the dismissal package (often fully detailed in any collective agreements that may be in place in your sector). In the absence of a collective agreement, legal minimum is 20% of a month's salary up to 10 years service, then 40% - for these purposes, a month's salary is 1/12 of gross pay in the 12 months preceding the dismissal

    Step 4) People rarely roll over and die, they will generally submit a legal challenge to the Conseil des Prud'hommes (local employment tribunal) contesting the validity of the dismissal. They have nothing to lose and no costs to bear. For this reason, most companies generally go an extra step with the severance package to avoid the hassle of 12-24 months of tribunal procedures ( more if challenged on appeal)

    A CSP is compulsory for compaines with less than 1,000 staff, provided the person is not legally in a position to retire, that they are fit for work and that they live in France - but that is another story.

    My advice? Work closely with a french employment lawyer to make this happen - mistakes are easy and costly

  • Anonymous

    Anonymous | 689 Posts

    6 Dec, 2016 13:14

    In reply to Ray:

    Thank you Ray, I much appreciateyour response. Regards, Suzy
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous | 689 Posts

    6 Jan, 2017 15:44

    Hi Suzy,

    Do you have just this one employee in France or are you just making one position redundant?
    If you have several employees in France, are they impacted by this redundancy at all? (job specs change, level of responsibilities, management...)

    Having read through Ray's comments, I am just adding some elements as I happen to know the french employment legislation:

    - Before starting the proceeding you must ensure that you have gathered all the documents and evidence that you will be using to justify this redundancy. This is an important step as you won't be able to add any further argument to the debate once the process will have started. All the arguments will be presented to the employee both during the preliminary meeting to explain him why a redundancy is seen as the only option and after in the letter you will send after the meeting confirming the redundancy.

    - You will send a letter to the employee to invite him to a preliminary meeting. You need to set up the date and time of the meeting which cannot be in less than 5 working days after the 1st attempt of delivery by the Postman. It must be sent by recorded letter.
    In this letter, as you are an international company, you MUST inform him that he has the possibility to ask you to look for a suitable alternative position within one of your subsidiaries outside France. You must specify that he has 7 days to come back to you in writing (specify how he can contact you e-mail, post..) and specify the region he is interested in.

    - During the meeting you explain the economical ground for this redundancy. You must give the employee a letter detailing the economical ground during the meeting. If there is any dispute around the redundancy, you won't be able to use any other arguments that those detailed in the letter.
    If you have identified a suitable alternative position within your company, please notify this to the employee during the meeting.
    You must also give them the documentation relating to the CSP. There is a document as part of the CSP that the employee must sign during the meeting and give back to you. This will start the 21 days allowed to the employee to think about the CSP proposal.

    CAREFUL: the date on which the employee will have received the documents is vital. You can waste some precious days if you don't follow all the steps.
    Ensure that the employee sign for all the documents he gets from you during the meeting, it will be used as a evidence that all the documents have been distributed as per legislation. If he refuses to sign for the documents, give him a copy in any case. I would then suggest that you take another copy, write on each document something like "distributed on the //2017. Sent via recorded delivery on the //2017" and write down the number of the recorded delivery. Please keep records of these documents as well.

    - 7 working days following the meeting you can send him a redundancy letter.

    The employee will notify you in writing if he is accepting the CSP. In that case his employment contract will end 21 days after the reception of the CSP documents mentioned earlier.

    Regarding his notice period it is hard to say without knowing the type of job he is doing nor the sector you are working in (the applicable collective agreement could give you a clue)
    I would assume he is on a 2 or 3 months notice. You should check his employment contract.

    As Ray says I would contact a french employment lawyer unless you have the resources to help you.

    Good luck!
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous | 689 Posts

    6 Jan, 2017 16:07

    In reply to Anonymous:

    Thank you I really appreciate the feedback. We are in the IT sector (outsourcing) and this potential redundancy is affecting just the one employee, we have no other employees based in France. The employee is in fact Hungarian and relocated to France approximately 3 years ago, prior to this he was employed in our Hungarian subsidiary. The reason for the potential redundancy is that this employee is engaged on a customer site and the contract we provide is due to end in June of this year, we believe due to the organisational changes within our customers organisation that the role will cease to exist once the contract comes to an end.
  • In reply to Anonymous:

    I was going to say use a French lawyer because I know it is hard. I now know more about why France struggles economically
  • Suzy like everyone says - use a lawyer. To be legal everything has to be in French (even if that is not the employee's first language). To create a valid economic argument is tough because French courts will look at a successful company and will ask why alternative work couldn't have been given to this French employee. The employee also has a right to be given priority consideration to any other role in the company anywhere in the world. Also there is a need for registration with Government agencies. France is full of rights. There are ways to work with these but a lawyer is very much worth the money
  • In reply to Tim:

    Although the French Labour Code requires all legal documents to be in french, article L 1221-3 gives an employee whose mother tongue is not french the right requset (and receive) a translation of the the documents into his own language - in the case of discrepancies between the french and translated version it is the translated version that takes precedent.
    I went through the process myself a couple of years ago in dismissing a US citizen who had total mastery of the french language but who, out of pure botheration, exercised the right to translated documents...
    In this specific case, finding a french->hungarian translator with specialist hr legal vocabulary skills would be a significant challenge.....

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    As everyone's advise using a french lawyer is probably your best option. They will build all the documentation, timeline.... Much quicker and less risky. An employee accepting a CSP in France has a year to lodge a claim in front of the Employment Court.