2021 Climate Law – New obligations to inform and consult employee representative bodies in France

Posted on 3rd January, 2022

Estimated reading time 4 minutes

On 22 August 2021, the French Parliament adopted the Climate and Resilience Law ("2021 Climate Law"). Since being passed, employee representative bodies must now be informed and consulted on the environmental consequences of any major project considered by an employer. There will be a large number of projects that will now require this prior employee consultation, and many companies established in France will be impacted. Affected projects will include any which impact “the general running of the company”, for example any project likely to affect the number of employees (downsizing plan), changes in the economic or legal organisation (merger, cession, demerger), the introduction of new technology or any important development in health and safety conditions or working conditions.

Requirements for companies

Any project which requires prior consultation of the works council must now include an environmental impact analysis of the project in the information sent to the employee representative bodies. In addition, each year, the works council must receive information about the environmental impacts of the company’s activity.

What are the consequences if companies do not comply?

The legal provisions do not provide direct sanctions for failing to consider environmental impacts in a major project submitted for consultation to employee representatives. Based on previous case law, particularly on the obligation to analyse the impacts in terms of health and safety, it is very likely that failure to consider the environmental effects will lead to the suspension of the information-consultation process and consequently to the suspension of the project, delaying its implementation. For example, if a works council brings an action before a tribunal during the information-consultation process for the employer to produce additional information on the project's environmental impacts any employeer who tries to force through the project could be held criminally liable for obstructing the powers of the works council. In the more specific context of downsizing plans, which in France are subject to prior authorisation by the labour inspectorate, the latter could refuse to approve such a plan, or the judge could revoke such authorisation if a sufficiently serious analysis of the environmental impacts has not been carried out.

Find out more

This article was produced by Nicolas Chenevoy Martin, Associate lawyer Labor law specialist, at Fidere Avocats, France, a CELIA Alliance member firm. For further information or if you have any queries relating to the content of this communication, please contact us. CELIA Alliance CELIA Alliance members are identified here. Members of the CELIA Alliance are each independent law firms and do not practice law jointly with any other member of the CELIA Alliance. "CELIA Alliance" and "CELIA" are not trading names. For more information about the CELIA Alliance click here. Disclaimer Content is for general information purposes only. The information provided is not intended to be comprehensive and it does not constitute or contain legal or other advice. If you require assistance in relation to any issue please seek specific advice relevant to your particular circumstances. In particular, no responsibility shall be accepted by the authors or by Abbiss Cadres LLP for any losses occasioned by reliance on any content appearing on or accessible from this newsletter. For further legal information click here. Circular 230 disclosure To ensure compliance with requirements imposed by the IRS and other taxing authorities, we inform you that any tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments) is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties that may be imposed on any taxpayer or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein. Copying If you would like to copy or otherwise reproduce this article then you may do so provided that: (1) any such copy or reproduction is for your own personal use or if it is made available to any third party it is done so on a free of charge basis; and (2) the article is reproduced in full together with the contact details, disclaimer and any logos as they appear on each article.