international employment law firm alliance L&E Global

France: Mandatory employee development meetings and performance appraisal meetings can take place on the same day but separately

Pursuant to article L.6315-1 of the French Labour Code, all employers must organise a meeting with their staff to discuss their professional development. Such a meeting must take place at least every two years (subject to the terms of a national or company-level collective bargaining agreement providing for a different periodicity).

In case of non-compliance, the employer must make a payment into the employee’s personal training account and pay an increased professional training contribution to the state (up to €3000 per employee). This, however, only applies to companies with at least 50 employees.

Employers also commonly organise annual appraisal meetings during which the employee’s performance is reviewed and new objectives are set. This type of meeting is not mandatory under French law but is highly recommended. In the absence of such a meeting, it can prove difficult to sanction an employee for poor performance.

For the sake of efficiency, employers tend to discuss both the employee’s performance and development during the same meeting. However, the French Supreme Court had ruled that this was not allowed without specifying whether such meetings could nevertheless be held at the same day, for example, one after the other. This has now been clarified in a ruling dated 5th July 2023. It is possible to do so but subject to making a clear distinction between each type of meeting.

It is also important to note that French law provides for a mandatory annual meeting with employees whose working time is measured in days worked per year (forfait jours) rather than hours worked per week. The purpose of this meeting is to discuss the employee’s workload. In the absence of such a meeting, the employee could challenge this working time arrangement and claim overtime back pay, which can prove very costly for the employer.

Key Action Points for Human Resources and In-house Counsel

  • Ensure that all employees benefit from their mandatory professional development meeting. Employees’ working time shall be measured in days worked per year to effectively discuss workload in the mandatory annual meeting.
  • If these meetings shall be conducted on the same day, ensure that they are conducted separately with proper documentation i.e. separate invitations and minutes of the meeting.