News - France

France - October 2009

France: Termination of a foreign secondment: Repatriation and reintegration obligation

Obligations for French employers to repatriate seconded employees triggered by business transfers.

The temporary cross-border assignment of employees in multinational groups is a common HR management tool. To protect seconded employees against the difficulties that may arise from the termination of their assignment in a foreign country, French legislation provides for a general obligation for the French parent company (employer), upon termination of the foreign assignment for whatever reason, to repatriate the assigned employee to France and provide a new position within the group that fits with his professionals skills.

The repatriation and reintegration obligation would generally apply when the employment of the assigned employee is terminated for any reason (end of the assignment, dismissal for or without cause, force majeure, etc.).

The French Supreme Employment Court (Cass.soc.  13 November 2008) ruled recently that the repatriation and reintegration obligation also applies when the termination of the secondment is the consequence of a business restructuring of the foreign subsidiary with an assignment of all local employees to a new owner.

In that case, a French employee had been seconded to Argentina to work for a local subsidiary. Following a restructuring, the business in Argentina and all employees, including the seconded employee, had been transferred to a new owner. The French employee claimed repatriation to France and reintegration into a new position in the French parent company. Although the restructuring did not result in a termination of the employment contract, the Supreme Court ruled that the seconded employee could claim repatriation to France.

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Reference: Cass.soc.  13 November 2008 No 0742-640

For further information or to discuss the issues raised, please contact Pascal Ngatsing (pngatsing@soffal.fr) on +33 (0) 1 53 93 94 00.

This article was produced by, and re-produced with kind permission of, our correspondent firm in France, Société Juridique et Fiscale Franco-Allemande Selas (SOFFAL).  www.soffal.fr

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