France: The principle of equality does not prevent employers from giving a 13th month bonus exclusively to executives
Company agreements may provide that special benefits are reserved for certain categories of employees, such as executives. This difference in treatment between the executive and the non-executive had so far been presumed justified, in the light of the principle of equal treatment, when they were rooted in a collective agreement. On the other hand, when they result from an employer’s decision, the company must be able to justify that the difference of treatment is based on an objective reason. The judge controls the reality and the relevance of this reason.
However, the French Supreme Court (Cour de Cassation) has just made it clear that the fact of reserving such a bonus to executives of the company is not contrary to the principle of equal treatment. This solution results from the very purpose of the 13th month bonus, which contributes to the annual remuneration paid, in the same way as the basic salary, in exchange for the employee’s work. However, executives and non-executives are not placed in an identical situation with regard to the work performed.