After four months of negotiations between social partners regarding the modernisation of the labour market, the major employers' unions reached a compromise with the trade unions on 11 January 2008.
Employers were represented in the negotiations by MEDEF, CGPME and UPA, whereas trade unions Force Ouvrière, CGT, CFE-CGC, CFTC and CFDT took part on behalf of employees.
The agreement, which must be formally accepted by a majority of unions in order to enter into force, gives employers and employees the opportunity to mutually agree to break long-term, open-ended contracts. In such cases, the breaking of the contract must be validated by the employer within a fortnight.
Moreover, the text of the agreement provides for new fixed-term contracts for managers and engineers carrying out specified tasks, valid for a period of 18 to 36 months.
The text also provides for an extension of trial periods – renewable once – from one month to two for blue-collar workers and three months to four for those in management.
The unions agreed to increase severance pay for salaried employees who have been working with a company for over a year, and gave them the opportunity to transfer various rights between jobs, including training, health insurance and contingency funds.
The French trade unions Force Ouvrière, CFTC and CFE-CGC approved the agreement on 14 January, while the CFDT is expected to follow suit on 17 January.