The French Labor Code, which does not provide acquisition of paid leave during sick leave that in the event of occupational illness does not infringe the principles of the Constitution, the Constitutional Council ruled on Thursday.
This decision, however, in no way invalidates a recent judgment of the Court of Cassation which provides that under European law, labor law will have to be revised so that employees on sick leave receive paid leave, whatever the origin.
Labor Minister Catherine Vautrin promised in mid-January that “our country will obviously comply with European legislation” once the decision of the Constitutional Council is known.
The rights to health and rest respected, according to the Council
In his speech before the Council on January 30, the State representative indicated that he wanted the acquisition of paid leave by employees on sick leave to be limited to four weeks per year, corresponding to the minimum duration of acquisition of paid leave at European level, compared to five weeks in France.
Seized of two priority questions of constitutionality (QPC) formulated by a former commercial employee, the Sages had to determine whether two articles of the Labor Code infringed on the one hand the right to health and rest and on the other the principle of equality.
“The legislator wanted to prevent the employee, victim of an accident or illness resulting from his professional activity and leading to the suspension of his employment contract, from also losing any right to paid leave during this period” , noted the Council, consequently considering that “the complaint of disregard for the principle of equality before the law must therefore be dismissed”.
It also ruled that “the complaint based on disregard for the right to rest” guaranteed by the preamble to the 1946 Constitution should be dismissed.
Limited leave accumulation
Employer representatives had defended the current French legislation before the Council, with the Medef representative estimating the cost for companies of acquiring paid leave during sick leave at at least 2 billion euros per year, not counting any arrears they may have to pay.
But in a letter to Medef members in December, its president Patrick Martin had already indicated that he had obtained assurances from the Ministry of Labor that “the future compliance law” would limit the accumulation of paid leave during periods of shutdown. illness to four weeks per year, accompanied by “a right to carry over leave over a period of 15 months”.
For the CGT, “if the decision rendered today is obviously disappointing – a symbolic censorship would have been welcome to drive the point home – it does not change anything in the rights now applicable to employees”. “The contested provisions of the Labor Code are well and truly buried,” the union underlined in a press release.