Reform of the 2017 Labor Code (reform Macron)

The ordinances concerning the reform of the Code of desired work by Emmanuel Macron come into force gradually. Explanation of the content of this reform that fundamentally changes the French labor law.
Reform of the 2017 Labor Code (reform Macron)

Emmanuel Macron has made labor reform one of the pillars of his presidential project. His idea is to focus on collective bargaining in the company from the current contents of the Labor Code, the new government considers too heavy.

Coming into force


The new government wanted a quick reform. This has been implemented very early in the five year, just months after the presidential dates.

The procedure has been initiated since last summer, through ordinances (see what "rule by decree"). The texts of the judgments were published in the Official Journal of 23 September 2017. Emmanuel Macron, all the new measures will become effective no later than 1 January 2018.

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To legislate by ordinance, the government had previously to pass an enabling law by Parliament.

Enabling Act

The enabling law authorizing the government to legislate by ordinance was published in the Official Gazette of 16 September 2017. The legislation, which includes 10 articles, is downloadable online.

Download the text of the Enabling Act.

This text was adopted by the Parliament (National Assembly and Senate) after a final vote by the Senate on August 2. It was then analyzed by the Constitutional Council validated the text unconditionally on 7 September. The enabling law authorizing the government to legislate by ordinance of the Labor Code has been deemed compliant with the Constitution.


Regarding orders properly tell, it's the end of August the government issued its arbitration on the most sensitive points of the reform, after a week of consultation with the social partners.

The final draft was presented Aug. 31 by Edouard Philippe and the Minister of Labor, Muriel Pénicaud. The precise content of the 5 orders concerning the reform of the Labor Code is public since.

The final texts were adopted by the Cabinet Friday, September 22, 2017. They were then published in the Official Journal on 23 September 2017.

According to Emmanuel Macron, Articles 5 orders all come into force on 1 January 2018. While some measures are applicable from the publication of the texts in the Official Journal, others must wait until the decrees of issue to become effective.

Prescriptions must also be a ratification law passed by Parliament within three months of their publication date. This law must be discussed by the Assembly from November 21. A formal vote is to be held on November 28 before the text of ratification is sent to the Senate.
Also according to the government agenda to reform the Labor Code succeeds tax reform carried by the Finance Act 2018. Then there will be the unemployment insurance reform in 2018.

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Download orders

The reform of the Labor Code based on 5 orders. These texts are available online since 31 August 2017.

Download the text of the orders on labor reform.

legislative changes

Emmanuel Macron and his government want to reform the Labor Code in depth.

The main principles are preserved, such as those of the minimum wage (SMIC), the legal working hours (35h), the fight against discrimination ... For the rest, the Government wants to give a much more important place to enterprise agreements (and thus to negotiation) to regulate relations between employers and employees.

Corporate Agreement

These standards will be defined jointly by the company management and employee representatives in the context of enterprise agreements. Failing agreement, it would be the branch agreement that would apply.

Currently, there is a principle of the primacy of the branch agreement on the company agreement. The latter can not, in principle, contain rules contrary to those contained in the branch agreement (except in terms of working time). Emmanuel Macron want to change this principle for the company agreements provide otherwise rules, particularly in the fields of vocational training and working conditions. The rules provided in the company agreement then replace those provided in the branch agreement, including where these standards are less favorable to employees.

However, the sectoral agreements retain their primacy in certain areas defined in Article 1 of the ordinance on strengthening collective bargaining. These include hierarchical minimum wages, professional equality between men and women or conditions and of the trial period renewal periods.

In these materials, the content of the sectoral agreement prevails over the enterprise agreement (except when the latter provides for more favorable rules). However, the company agreement may prevail over all other issues, including seniority bonuses or 13th month.

See as well

  • Company agreement, branch agreement and hierarchy of norms
  • Corporate referendum and collective agreements

Trading in SMEs

Where there is no union in a company (which is the case in 96% of SMEs), company agreements are now negotiated by employees appointed by a trade union. In small and medium enterprises, the reform plans to allow an employee to enter into a business agreement. Including, therefore, if the employee is not unionized.

In companies with between 11 and 50 employees, an agreement will thus be negotiated with a representative of the non-commissioned staff by a union. In companies with fewer than 20 employees that do not have elected personnel, a referendum will be held with employees at the employer's initiative. The agreement will then be validated by a majority of two thirds.

See collective bargaining in small and micro businesses

Limit prud'homales allowances

Macron President also wished to change the rules for benefits paid to employees employment tribunals in case of dismissal without just cause. This measure, which was a time considered when discussing the labor law (El Khomri Act) of 2016, establishes a threshold and above a ceiling to the amount of compensation paid to employees.

The amounts change depending on the age of the dismissed employee. Some unfair dismissal (related, for example, harassment or discrimination) are however not concerned by capping industrial tribunal claims.

The new scale sets ceilings and thresholds varying amounts depending on seniority. In all cases, a judge can not allocate an employment tribunal exceed 20 months salary compensation (ceiling reserved for employees with the longest tenure: for others, the ceiling is reduced).

You can check the schedule of payments industrial tribunal for more on the tables now in force.

statutory redundancy payments

In return for these new ceilings, the government increased the minimum amount of statutory redundancy payments.

Previously, an employee with less than 10 years seniority was entitled to 1 / 5th of their salary per year of service. Now, the rate rose to a quarter. In practice this means that a worker earning 2,000 euros per month and 10 years of service will get 5,000 euros, against 4,000 euros previously.

This increase was formalized by Decree No. 2017-1398 of 25 September 2017.

Another measure favorable to employees laid off: the reform also lowered the age threshold at which benefits are due. It is now set at 8 months against 1 year ago.

Pink slip

Another important point is the reform of the Labor Code: the government wants to soften the regime applicable to dismissal procedures. In the current law, when the employer commits some form of errors during the termination process, it can potentially be canceled. Several measures and aim to secure the situation of the employer who wishes to dismiss without much know the applicable procedural rules. Article L. 1235-2 of the Labor Code will introduce new rules to limit the consequences of procedural irregularities.

To prevent errors, the reform provides first to provide multiple redundancy form templates that the company will use to disband. These types-models will be introduced in a State Council decree which should appear by the end of 2017 (and January 1, 2018).

In addition, the employer will retain the opportunity to clarify or supplement the reasons given in the letter of dismissal, even after its notification to the employee. This modification may be made at the initiative of the employer or the employee's request.

Finally, another important measure concerns the failure of prior maintenance procedure of dismissal by the employer. In this situation, the employee may still take legal action, but the law will provide that the compensation awarded by the court may not exceed one month's salary.

Time employment tribunals

The deadline for challenging a dismissal industrial tribunal goes to 1 year for all termination types. Previously, the law made a distinction between redundancy (1 year) and other types of dismissal, for which the time to act was 2 years old. All layoffs are now being applied the same limitation period.

CDI project

The government wants to expand the possibility of concluding "CDI project". This type of contract is already in the construction industry as a "CDI site"Which the government wants to emulate. It allows an employer to adjust the duration of the employment contract based on the progress of a project. The draft agreement contains the rules of classical CDI, but includes a site clause whereby the employer may dismiss the employee when the project for which he was recruited ends. The agreement therefore provides no specified end date.

Unlike the CSD, the draft agreement does not allow the employee to receive a precarious premium.

See CDI project or site


The government also plans to expand the scope of redundancies.

Currently, when a group sets up a redundancy plan in France, the courts take into account the difficulties of all sites located worldwide. The proposed reform intends to introduce a consideration of a national scope to assess the economic difficulties of a multinational, independent of other sites located abroad.

The future ordinance also would limit the discretion of judges to the Common industry to group companies located in France.

Fusion of employee representatives

Today, the single staff delegation allows grouping the works council and staff representatives within a single common unit. Only companies with 50 to 299 employees can now put in place.

The Macron orders extend this right to all businesses, automatically, by establishing a single representative body that would include both the duties of staff representatives, works council and the HSC, no ceiling limit. A business deal could still decide to maintain existing institutions or create new ones.

This new single body would be named to "Social and Economic Committee" (CSE). The CSE concentrate the expertise of three instances (DP, CE and CHSCT) and may take legal action. It could also be entrusted with negotiating skills usually under Steward. In this case, it would be called "company advice".

This new measure should thus lead to a decrease of elected numbers and delegation of hours.

See CSE (social and economic committee) role and implementation


Reform must also allow employees and employers to directly negotiate the payment of a bonus in the business (13th month, seniority bonus, holiday bonus ...). This option is available regardless of company size.

collective contractual termination

Reform account allow employers to establish a collective contractual termination device in the company. Fixed by an agreement negotiated with the unions, it would take the idea of ​​individual conventional breaking current: it therefore concerns only voluntary departures and would be under the control of the administration. The amount of compensation paid to employees would be set in the company agreement.

This measure aims to better supervise the voluntary redundancy plans, which were mostly governed by case law to date.

See Collective contractual termination: definition and procedure

union check

The initial version of the reform project also plans to implement union check. This device allows an employee to fund the union of their choice through an annual check paid by the employer. It is mentioned in 5) of Article 2 of the enabling law.

However, this measure was not included in the orders issued in late September.

CSD and interim

The project also aims to enable more flexible by industry agreement the rules for CSD and the interim. The conditions for the duration of these contracts, the number of possible renewals or their waiting period can now be set at the branch. If no agreement or any sectoral agreement provides for specific rules on these matters, it will be the law that will apply.

Sunday work

The enabling bill also contains measures to promote the opening of shops on Sundays. The text provides facilitate the repeal of the prefectural orders to establish closure for Sunday rest. It is also planned to increase the period granted to businesses located in a tourist and commercial zone to reach an agreement on Sunday work (Macron 2015 law had given them 2 years).

Learning and alternately

Macron wants to merge the apprenticeship and training contracts into a single contract alone. There would be more than a condition of maximum age.

Night work

The rules on night work could also be relaxed. Companies that are not covered by an agreement could thus marginally change the start and end of the legal time night work, to avoid "tilt" in night shifts for employees led to finish work late or start early.

painfulness account

Labor reform should also include a section on the arduous account, which allows employees exposed to factors of strain at work to acquire rights, including retirement and training. The government wants to simplify this device, the implementation in companies is considered too complex by employers.

4 criteria (the current 10) come out of the account to points. It is the handling of heavy loads, painful positions, mechanical vibration and chemical risks. Employees exposed to these risks can however still benefit from early retirement, but only under certain conditions.


The legal regime of teleworking is now better framed. Various measures to secure are implemented. The main concerns of occupational accidents, including support conditions in line with those of accidents at company premises.

Moreover, before the reform, telework should be mentioned in the employment contract of the employee or be the subject of an amendment to the employment contract. Now, a collective agreement may define the rules applicable to telework in the company. Otherwise, a charter will be drafted by the employer after obtaining the opinion of the Economic and Social Committee it exists in the company.


Only measure in the enabling law but not directly related to labor law (but will have all the same a major impact on the lives of companies and employees) the deferral of tax at source. Originally scheduled for January 1, 2018, its effective date will be postponed by one year. A shift formalized by Order No. 2017-1390 of 22 September 2017 on the one-year delay of the entry into force of the withholding of income tax (Official Gazette of September 23, 2017 ). See the date and calendar 2018 - 2019 withholding.


By the end of the year, the government also intends to implement its tax reform that should lead to a change in the amount of wages on 1 January. Remuneration should therefore increase slightly, since Macron wants to remove sickness and unemployment contributions currently levied on wages (see Macron project for unemployment insurance). An increase that will be offset, however, since, at the same time, Macron wishes to increase the rate of the CSG levied on these wages.


Emmanuel Macron has also set up a "margin for error" for employers when they are controlled by the administration (including Urssaf). This is a principle that the company will not normally be sanctioned during a first control when it is raised an unintentional failure on its part. For more information, see definition for error Macron.

Always in control, Macron would also develop testing campaigns to strengthen the fight against discrimination, including in hiring.

Resignation and Unemployment

Other measures will affect employees as part of the unemployment insurance reform to come in 2018. One concerns the unemployment benefits paid to employees who resigned. To facilitate mobility, employees who resign may well be entitled to unemployment benefits once every 5 years, which is not the case today (except in self resignation). See Macron project on unemployment insurance.

Photo credits: 123RF - choreograph
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