• John Fuggles

Egalité, fraternité and a little bit of liberté

Across most of Europe, there is often a perception that all laws are roughly equal and all countries follow them similarly. However, even within the European Union (EU), there is a whole range of rules and regulations that are interpreted differently from one country to another. This is especially so in employment law. Though intended to protect the rights and define the obligations of workers and employers, European labour law is a developing field, so companies are often challenged to understand and abide by these laws.

As EU cross-border working becomes less restricted, the need to manage these differing regulations becomes greater. Attempts to simplify and align rules for employment have been around for sometime. However, this gap has not yet been closed and recent in-country changes some are moving closer while others moving farther away from a common norm.

For much of late 2015 I was spending a lot of time in France. I hope my friends and colleagues in France will forgive the views of this particular ‘Rosbif’, but to understand the reasons for French employment law is to understand the history and culture of France itself.

For example, French law is tight around protecting the rights of temporary employees. A Contract Duration Determinée (CDD) places restrictions around length of contract, renewal, contractor age, end of contract bonus payments, etc.

So how do organisations adhere to these restrictions?

How do you know if a person is approaching 18 months of employment or whether they have had their CDD extended twice?

How do you manage this if they have worked in a different department, division, town or role?

What if they got married or changed their name?

- Do you have a single source of record for all this?

For all these reasons a system of record that records individual employment histories across the entire organisation and flags possible discrepancies becomes vital to offering the right visibility and reducing risk. In France, like many countries, technology is needed to manage this complex web of regulations to match the needs of both the organisation and the temporary worker.

France has recently relaxed some of its rules on temporary worker contracts, and rumours are, more changes are on their way. Indeed, the EU Council has urged change. But temporary labour is only set to increase across Europe and with evermore demanding accountability, the need for better systems has never been greater. Organisations without an accurate system of record that can forecast, manage and report on their non-employee workforce will soon start to see how exposed they are. 

Europe is all about diversity and freedom but it needs to be managed and ignorance is no excuse when it comes to the matter of employment law. Every year more changes will take place for sure and we will likely never get to a single suite of harmonious regulations. For these reasons a system of record is vital if we want to maintain freedom, equality and a common association, but in France they say it so much better!



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