France: The dismissal of a sick employee during the guarantee period of employment is abusive
A medical secretary was dismissed from her position due to prolonged sick leave that, it was argued, caused significant disorganisation to her employer. The applicable collective bargaining agreement provided for an “employment guarantee”, in case of prolonged sickness, that forbids dismissal for the entire first year of absence.
The court of appeals upheld the dismissal on the grounds that the dismissal was justified not by the sickness itself, but by the consequences for the employer’s organisation, which required a replacement employee.
The French supreme court struck down this ruling on the basis that the when a collective bargaining agreement provides for the guaranteed employment of one year, an employee cannot be dismissed for the consequences of her absence after one month.
This serves as a reminder to all employers of the importance of collective bargaining agreement dispositions that can concern dismissal procedures.