7 good reasons to join ALEBA
The Act of March 29, 2023 amending the Labor Code to introduce a system for protecting employees against moral harassment came into force on April 9, 2023. This means that a real legal framework for moral harassment has finally been established, whereas previously only the June 25, 2009 agreement signed between the social partners issued recommendations on the subject.
THE NEW DEFINITION OF MORAL HARASSMENT
The law of March 29, 2023 gives a new definition of harassment in article L.246-2 of the Labor Code: "any conduct which, by its repetition or systematization, undermines the dignity or psychological or physical integrity of a person".
Work-related communications, by whatever means and even outside normal working hours, are an integral part of work performance.
THE EMPLOYER'S OBLIGATIONS
The law imposes a number of obligations on employers to combat moral harassment:
- The employer must ensure that any act of moral harassment against employees of which he is aware ceases immediately.
- After informing and consulting the staff delegation or, failing that, the entire workforce, the employer must determine the measures to be taken to protect employees against moral harassment. These measures must be adapted to the nature of the business and the size of the company, as follows:
o Define the resources available to victims
o Investigate the facts quickly and impartially
o Make employees and managers aware of management methods and sanctions o Inform the staff delegation or, failing that, the entire workforce, of the employer's obligations
o Inform and train employees.
WHAT IF HARASSMENT PERSISTS?
THE ROLE OF THE LABOUR AND MINES INSPECTORATE
If moral harassment persists in the workplace despite the measures put in place by the employer, or if the employer fails to take adequate measures, the ITM can be contacted by the employee concerned or by the staff delegation, with the agreement of the employee concerned.
The ITM will be responsible for investigating the case and interviewing the employee concerned, the alleged perpetrator and any other person the ITM deems appropriate. Following the hearings, the ITM will draw up a report containing recommendations and proposed measures to put an end to the acts of moral harassment. This report will be sent to the employer no later than 45 days after receipt of the file.
In the event of moral harassment, the Director of the ITM will enjoin the employer to take the necessary measures to put an end to the acts of moral harassment within a timeframe determined by the report.
If the injunction is not complied with within the time limit set, the ITM Director may impose an administrative fine of up to 25,000 euros.
Employees who are victims of harassment in the workplace enjoy a certain degree of protection.
An employee who has been the victim of harassment may not be subjected to reprisals for protesting against harassing behaviour on the part of the employer or any other hierarchical superior, work colleagues or external persons in contact with the employer, nor for having testified to facts relating to harassment.
It should be emphasized that any act of retaliation against an employee is automatically null and void.
In the event of termination of an employee's employment contract despite the protection afforded to him/her, the employee may :
- or ask the President of the Labour Court to declare the dismissal null and void, and to order the employee's reinstatement within a fortnight,
- or take action for wrongful termination of the employment contract, with the possibility of obtaining specific damages for harassment in addition to those for dismissal.
In addition, the law (article L.246-6 of the Labor Code) provides that an employee who has been the victim of moral harassment may refuse to continue to perform the employment contract, and may resign for serious misconduct on the part of the employer, with immediate effect.
If employers, employees, customers or suppliers fail to comply with the law against moral harassment, they may be subject to criminal penalties ranging from 251 to 2,500 euros, as stipulated in article L.246-7 of the French Labor Code.
YOU'RE NOT ALONE WHEN IT COMES TO HARASSMENT.
CONTACT YOUR EMPLOYEE REPRESENTATIVES OR ALEBA, AND TOGETHER WE'LL FIND A SUITABLE SOLUTION.