- Employment incentive
- Territorial coordination
- Working time flexibility
Employer groups/Employee sharing
Employer' group (groupement d'employeurs) are schemes which allow to share employees between different employers. They were first introduced in France with a law enacted in 1985 (Law No. 85-772). Initially limited to agriculture and micro enterprises, they are now used by employers in all sectors and size categories.
There are two types of employer groups:
- The employer group (groupement d'employeurs, GE) with economic objectives. These can be agricultural employer groups, single sector or multi sectors' employer groups (other than in agriculture)
- The employer groups for the integration and acquisition of qualifications (groupement d’employeurs pour l’insertion et la qualification, GEIQ) target vulnerable groups and those having difficulties in accessing the labour market and gaining qualifications. The group imposes conditions on member companies regarding the training provision and qualifications of hired workers.
In 2011 the French government introduced a law (Loi Cherpion) aimed at developing training and safeguarding the career paths of participating workers. The law provides a more flexible legal framework for companies and for the development of employer groups. According to the law:
- equal treatment has to be guaranteed in wages, profit-sharing, incentive agreements and saving plans (Fadheuile, 2012).
- the provision prohibiting companies from participating in more than two different employer groups has been repealed, removing the limit.
- the limit of 300 employees has also been repealed. Any company can now join an employers' group, irrespective of its size.
- Regarding the joint and several liabilities of participating employers, each group can individually define distribution rules for the payment of any debts, based on objective criteria (for instance the assignment of a percentage of the debt to each of the employers) (Fadeuilhe, 2012).
In 2016, the law 2016-1088 of 8 August 2016 plans a set of additional measures aimed at:
- making the management of employer groups easier: for instance they are entitled to benefit from employment and vocational training subsidies (SME hiring, apprenticeships, etc.) which member companies would have benefited from if they had recruited directly;
- fostering the development of employer groups: especially, local authorities (collectivités territoriales) can now join employer groups organised as a cooperative and public state bodies (établissements publics d'Etat).
Several employers (private or public) collectively found an employer group which recruits personnel and makes them available to the member companies as needed. Workers are recruited according to the number of hours required by each member company for that position. Member companies must guarantee these hours and cover the payment. In general, each employee works on 2-4 projects every year, either on a seasonal or an ongoing basis; for example, they may work a specific working day per week or every second week in the same company. Employees generally benefit from open-ended contracts, though fixed-term contracts can also be used.
A collective agreement codifies the fundamental conditions and procedures of temporary staff transfers and the rights of the concerned workers. Contractual relations with the employer remain unchanged, and wages continue to be paid; next to the provision of workers, the employer group might provide other services to the member companies, such as organising training, recruiting (also core staff in the individual member companies), administration of core staff in the member companies.
Two distinct systems coexist:
- the Employer Group for Integration and Qualification (GEIQ), which imposes rules in relation to both the profile of the shared employees and training provision (the GEIQ benefit from a public financial assistance in compensation);
- the standard Employer Group without these obligations or established without any national public support. However, at regional level, some financial support may exist to establish an employer group.
- Local funds
- Regional funds
- National funds
Employer or employee organisations
It is regulated by sectoral collective agreements. The applicable collective agreement depends on specific sector covered by the GE.
Regional governments (funding)
There is a lack of national data about employer groups. However, according a study launched by the consultancy firm GESTE for the Ministry of Labour (DGEFP), the first results officially presented on 21 April 2016, give for the first time national statistics based on national data provided by INSEE. According to these findings, 711 GEs outside the agriculture sector (with at least one employee during the year 2013) were registered in 2013 and employed 15,515 people representing 12,646 Full Time Equivalents. About 60 to 70 have been created each year since 2009. While the number of new GEs is known, the number of those which are liquidated or no longer active remains unknown as it has been found by the GESTE study. GEs are located in all regions, but mainly in Western regions, and the regions Nord-Pas-De-Calais, Haute-Normandie and Rhône-Alpes. GEs are mainly SMEs, as near to 60% have fewer than 10 shared workers. On average, GEs have three full-time employees. GEs with more than 50 employees represent 8% of the registered GEs.
A report (2018) issued by the Economic, Social and Environmental Committee (CESE) mentions that 8 out of 10 GEs are to be found in agriculture, even if there is a progressive and limited coverage of other sectors (industry, trade, building). Recently, the raise of small-sized GEs in sports and culture sectors is also reported. Overall anyway, the use of such GEs remains limited, a fact that explains the CESE recommends several measures to support this instrument: for instance, it recommends that, with a view to making career paths more secure, branches that make heavy use of short contracts should contribute to the establishment of regional or sectoral employer groups, responding to the problems faced by companies, while guaranteeing the security of full-time jobs for employees.
- The model provides the participating companies with an additional instrument for managing cyclical and seasonal variations in demand. It has also expanded the range of shared activities among the companies involved, and the exchange of experience in areas such as human resources development, information and communications technology (ICT), supply of equipment and materials and logistics.
- Workers are able to increase their employability by developing new skills through the performance of different tasks in different companies.
- The scheme offers the chance to an employer to hire a particularly high performing worker on a permanent basis, that would not have taken a part-time job or would not have been interested in working in a small company.
- Low administrative burden for companies in relation to the hiring and payment of employees for companies.
- The model contributes to support local development at territorial level
The joint and several liabilities of participating employers can prevent some companies from joining the scheme, or some employer groups from accepting a new member that appears to be financially unstable.
The tool is still not widely used and statistical data about it remain uncomplete which as such hinders the development of this model.
The GEs business model is often fragile, as it is mainly based on member companies' contributions and as GEs activity is a not for profit one (according to the CESE, 37% of existing GEs consider their financial situation as fragile).