Taken on the basis of the emergency law to deal with the Covid-19 epidemic, several orders have already adjusted the deadline applicable in employment law for performing an action or formality or bringing legal proceedings. A new ordinance published in the Official Journal on 18 June 2020 amends some of the applicable deadlines. We examine the main changes affecting the way businesses operate...
Extension of the adaptation of the deadlines for the conclusion of collective agreements intended to deal with the economic, financial and social consequences of the spread of the Covid-19 epidemic
Ordinance No. 2020-428 of 15 April 2020 adapted the rules for negotiating agreements whose purpose is exclusively to tackle the economic, financial and social consequences of the spread of the Covid-19 epidemic, as well as the consequences of the measures taken to limit that spread.
Whereas those negotiating rules initially applied to agreements concluded until the end of a one-month period starting from the end of the health emergency, i.e. until 10 August 2020, the ordinance of 17 June 2020 extends that period until 10 October 2020:
- for branch agreements: the objection period for challenging the validity of a branch agreement available to non-signatory representative trade unions, representing the majority of votes cast in favour of those unions, is reduced from 15 to eight days. Furthermore, the period of one month for opposing the extension available to representative employers' bodies, whose member companies employ more than half of the employees of companies belonging to the branch's representative trade unions, is reduced to eight days;
- for companies with union delegates: if an agreement is signed by trade unions representing between 30% and 50% of the votes cast in the last elections, the period during which trade unions and after which the employer can request the organisation of employee consultation, is reduced from one month to eight days from the conclusion of the agreement. Following that request, the minimum period for organising the consultation, during which non-signatory organisations can sign the agreement if they wish, is reduced from eight to five days;
- for companies with at least 50 employees without union delegates: the period during which elected officials can inform the employer of their intention to be mandated by representative trade unions in the branch, or else at national and inter-professional level, is reduced from one month to eight days.
On the other hand, for companies with fewer than 11 employees without union delegates, the provision reducing the time between the transmission of the draft agreement and the organisation of the referendum from 15 to five days is repealed from 11 August 2020.
Possibility of bringing forward resumption of the electoral process
Ordinance No. 2020-389 of 1 April 2020 suspended ongoing elections and postponed workplace elections during the period of the health emergency. It postponed the deadline for holding those elections until after the end of that period.
Ordinance No. 2020-560 of 13 May 2020 modified the initial deadlines to ensure that suspended or postponed workplace elections are held within a time-frame allowing them to be taken into account in the third measurement cycle of trade union representivity, i.e. by 31 December 2020. The deadlines for postponing and suspending the electoral process were therefore defined as follows:
- for companies required by law to hold an election by 2 April 2020 which had not begun the electoral process by that date, as well as for companies required by law to hold elections between 12 March 2020 and 31 August 2020, the electoral process must be initiated by the employer on a date to be freely chosen by it between 24 May and 31 August 2020 inclusive, without that date being before the date on which it is obliged to initiate said procedure;
- for companies that began their electoral process before 2 April 2020, the current electoral process is suspended from 12 March 2020 to 31 August 2020. In principle therefore, companies cannot continue organisation of their elections until 1 September 2020.
For those companies, the ordinance of 17 June 2020 stipulates that the employer can decide to end the suspension on a date freely determined by it between 3 July and 31 August 2020. At least 15 days before the date defined for resumption of the electoral process, it must then inform, by any means:
- trade unions meeting the criteria of respect for republican values and independence, legally constituted for at least two years and whose professional and geographic scope corresponds to the company or establishment in question;
- trade unions recognised as representative in the company or establishment, those that have established a union section in the company or establishment, as well as unions affiliated to a representative trade union at national and inter-professional level;
- the Regional Companies, Competition, Consumption, Labour and Employment Directorate (Direccte), if it has been asked to decide on a dispute relating to determination of the number and scope of separate establishments, the distribution of employees in electoral colleges or the distribution of seats between the various categories of personnel;
- the employees.
Modification of the end of adjustments to deadlines for examining requests for recognition of workplace accidents, occupational illnesses and medical appeals against decisions by social security bodies
The ordinance of 17 June 2020 modifies the deadlines for extending the deadlines defined in these cases by ordinance No. 2020-460 of 22 April 2020.
So, for procedures concerning the recognition of workplace accidents or occupational illnesses, deadlines granted to employees and employers which expire between 12 March and a date fixed by order of the Minister for Social Security which cannot be later than 10 October 2020 inclusive, are extended in accordance with the provisions of Ordinance No. 2020-460 of 22 April 2020:
- the victim must declare the workplace accident within 48 hours (rather than 24 hours) and the employer must submit its declaration within five days (rather than 48 hours);
- a victim seeking compensation for an occupational illness must declare it to the primary health insurance fund (CPAM – Caisse Primaire d'Assurance Maladie) within 30 days rather than 15, from the cessation of work;
- the deadline of 10 full days to issue reservations, starting from the date the employer submits the declaration or receipt of the victim’s declaration, is increased to 12 days;
- the deadline for responding to questionnaires is extended by 10 days for workplace accidents and occupational illnesses and five days for relapses and new injuries;
- the deadline for making the file available in relation to the procedure for recognising occupational illnesses is extended by 20 days;
So, for procedures concerning the recognition of workplace accidents or occupational illnesses, deadlines granted to funds which expire between 12 March and a date fixed by order of the Minister for Social Security which cannot be later than 10 November 2020 inclusive, are extended as follows:
- in the framework of procedures for recognising workplace accidents, the deadline for the CPAM to decide to initiate additional investigations or rule on the professional nature of the accident is extended to a date fixed by ministerial decree, and no later than 1 December 2020 inclusive;
- as part of the procedure for the recognition of relapses and new injuries, the deadline for the fund's decision is extended until a date fixed by order of the Minister for Social Security, and at the latest until 1 December 2020;
- in the framework of procedures for recognising occupational illnesses, the deadline for the CPAM to decide to refer the case to the regional committee for recognition of occupational illnesses (CRRMP – Comité Régional de Reconnaissance des Maladies Professionnelles) or to decide on the professional nature of the illness is extended to a date fixed by ministerial decree, and no later than 1 December 2020;
In addition, the deadlines for submitting requests for expert appraisals and preliminary medical appeals, which expire between 12 March and a date fixed by order of the Minister for Social Security which cannot be later than 10 August 2020 inclusive, are extended in application of Article 2 of Ordinance No. 2020-306 of 25 March 2020.
Finally, deadlines relating to implementation of the expert appraisal and the conditions for examining appeals by the medical arbitration committee (CMRA – Commission Médicale de Recours Amiable) are extended by four months if they expire between 12 March and a date fixed by order of the Minister for Social Security which cannot be later than 10 August 2020 inclusive.
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