France: Climate Matters are now part of the Works Council Consultations
On 20 July 2021, the French parliament definitively adopted the bill to combat climate change and strengthen resilience to its effects. Much criticised for its lack of ambition, notably by NGOs, this text was inspired by the work of the 150 members of the Climate Convention and includes a chapter on “adapting employment to the ecological transition“.
As part of its general mission to ensure the collective expression of employees, the CSE (Works Council) of companies with at least 50 employees will now have to take into account the environmental consequences of the employer’s decisions relating to the management as well as the economic and financial evolution of the company, the organisation of work, vocational training and production techniques (article L. 2312-8 of the French Labour Code).
The employer will also be required to inform and consult the CSE on the environmental consequences of the measures that it presents within the framework of the information-consultation procedure regarding the organisation, management and general operations of the company.
The employer must therefore evaluate and present the possible environmental impact of the measures that are likely to affect the volume or structure of the workforce, modify the economic or legal organisation of the company, or which aim to introduce new technologies in the business.
In the same way, during the recurrent consultations of the CSE (on the company’s strategic orientations relating to its economic and financial situation and with regard social policy, working conditions and employment), the employer must now inform the latter of the environmental consequences of the company’s activity.
The company will be obliged to do so, regardless of whether or not it is covered by a company agreement that sets out the recurring consultations of the CSE. Indeed, the law modifies both the public order provisions (C. trav., art. L. 2212-17) as well as the suppletive provisions (C. trav., art. L. 2312-22) relating to these recurrent consultations.
Key Action Points for Human Resources and In-house Counsel
Employers will have to integrate the environmental and climate-related consequences in their information and consultation procedures corresponding to the works council.