EMCC European Monitoring Centre on Change

Re-employment units

Phase: Management
  • Advice
  • Fostering mobility
  • Matching/Networking
  • Start-up support
  • Training
Zuletzt geändert: 09 September, 2020
Ursprünglicher Name:

Cellules de reclassement

Englischer Name:

Re-employment units


Re-employment units are a measure widely used, on a voluntary basis, by companies, whatever their size, initiating a collective dismissal procedure and setting up an employment protection plan.

Before 2011, the setting up of re-employment units could benefit from public funding, under specific conditions, dedicated to companies employing fewer than 1,000 workers that initiate a collective dismissal procedure. 

Any employee who might be dismissed for economic reasons can avail of this instrument regardless of job tenure or age.

Main characteristics

Re-employment units, which are not mandatory, offer individualised support to employees threatened with dismissal. This support consists of a preliminary assessment of their job situation, skills, expectations and job opportunities that they may consider for job mobility within the company or outside the company as an alternative to redundancies.

Before 2011, it was usual to make a distinction between three types of such units: 

  • informal units (cellules non conventionnées), which include today almost all the cases and they are entirely financed by the company;
  • formal units (cellules conventionnées) benefit from public support that can go up to 50% of the unit's budget;
  • inter-enterprise units ('cellules interentreprises'), which involve several companies and benefit from public support going up to 75% of the unit's budget.

However, since September 2011, and the entry into force of the professional security contract, public funding of re-employment units has become exceptional, is dedicated to companies employing fewer than 1,000 employees and only in exceptional circumstances as appreciated by the labour administration. One should therefore consider that re-employment units are now informal ones (cellules non conventionnées), included in employment protection plans.   

Composed of company employees or/and external consultants, these units assist workers with guidance, skills assessment, matching, training, including support to business creation. They collaborate with the local employment services. Support to affected employees is  usually available for a maximum of 12 months, with the possibility of a six-month extension if required.

In case a re-employment unit benefits from a public support, which is now exceptional, the effectiveness of these units is monitored by a committee (commission de suivi), which is made up of company representatives, worker representatives, the public employment service (PES) and other regional stakeholders, if appropriate. This committee guarantees the quality of support for each of the participating employees. It first approves the reclassification process and the plan for each employee with respect to expectations and considered job alternatives. It also regularly examines statistics to monitor the progress on approved training and support to the concerned employees. It also provides support for the validation of work experience and ensures that the individual needs of each employee are met.

In case a re-employment unit does not benefit from any public support, which is currently the case in almost all situations, the follow up of the re-employment unit is made through the follow-up committee of the employment protection plan.


  • National funds
  • Employer

Involved actors

National government
Funding but only in exceptional circumstances since September 2011. In other situations, the labour administration is to be informed about the follow up of the employment protection plan and of the measures it includes (re-employment units among other measures).
Public employment services
Cooperation, which is even compulsory for inter-enterprise units when they exist (see above).
Specialised external private firms managing the re-employment units (providing financial and technical support, equipment and offices). Companies and worker representatives at company level assess the re-employment unit through the follow up of the employment protection plan


In 2008, the use of re-employment units was mentioned in 85% of redundancy plans ('plans de sauvegarde de l'emploi'). According to information from the labour ministry department in charge of research, studies and statistics (Direction de l'animation de la recherche, des études et des statistiques, DARES), out of 10 employees availing of the support of a re-employment unit, only three secured an indefinite contract, and one quarter found temporary, short-term employment.

In 2009, only 18% of people that resorted to re-employment units found a permanent contract. 

In 2014, five formal units were implemented (as opposed to 731 in 2009, 350 in 2011 and 44 in 2012).  According to DARES, this decrease is likely to continue because since the end of 2011, formal re-employment units have only been used on an exceptional basis. Indeed, in 2015, no formal units were implemented and the statistical monitoring is no longer ensured. Another instrument - professional security contracts (Contrat de sécurisation professionnelle, CSP) - created in 2011, replaces the state funded re-employment units. As a result, numerous units are now directly funded by companies rather than through public funds. With respect to the latter, effectiveness is difficult to assess as only few and limited public studies dedicated to the follow up of  workers made redundant are accessible. A limited study, published in 2014, analysed the answers to a survey made by 201 managers directly in charge of implementing collective redundancies processes about the kind of measures included in employment protection plans and their perceived efficiency. In 69% of the cases, re-employment units were included in the employment protection plans. They were deemed useful and very useful by 92% of the respondents.


This instrument provides support to vulnerable workers. It uses the external agency's network and their know-how to find job offers and assist workers with the preparation of their job applications.


It has been criticised by the French Economic, Social and Environmental Council (Conseil Economique, Social et Environnemental) as regards outcomes in terms of long-term returns to employment. The quality of a re-employment unit depends on the company resources, state aid, the actual desire of the worker to be re-employed and the quality of support provided by the external agency in charge of the unit. The instrument can also be very costly to run, even when it is not successful. A weak level of control is also exerted over completed cases.


Hewlett-Packard implemented a re-employment unit in 2005 in several units, notably in Sophia-Antipolis where it was criticised as the consultancy firm was not familiar with the local employment market. Continental: after the closing of a plant in the Oise department in 2009, only 22% had found durable employment in 2013, despite the establishment of a re-employment unit.
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