What the Securing Employment Act (Loi de Sécurisation de l’Emploi, LSE) changed in communication on reorganization projects
The Securing Employment Act (LSE) of June 14th2013 has significantly modified the way restructuring operations* are conducted, as it frames and limits in time the information and consultation procedure for employee representative bodies, as well as the redundancy plan negotiation while giving a greater role to the DIRECCTE (Direction régionale des entreprises, de la concurrence, de la consommation, du travail et de l’emploi, or Regional government body for businesses, competition, consumption, labor and employment). However, communication stakes remain the same: defining and implementing the adequate strategy and means are more than ever critical to the success of such operations.
The new applicable rules regarding restructuring precise deadlines for the information-consultation procedure of employee representative bodies to take place and require, on certain cases, a procedure of validation or ratification of the social support measures included in the PSE, for companies over 50 employees, by the DIRECCTE. The law strongly encourages the conclusion of a majority agreement on this PSE.
The priority given to a “negotiated way” has fostered a dialogue framed in time, which, nearly two years after the implementation of the law, has significantly reduced the number of legal actions brought against procedures and PSEs (8% use rate to the administrative court, versus 25% before the superior court before the LSE **) and thus already largely met the objectives of the law.
Managing communications towards the company’s various stakeholders is nonetheless essential and its issues remain unchanged. The preparation of the announcement requires to associate both public and political authorities, ministerial offices and local officials, for important announcements. The company must then accompany the information and consultation process through regular communication, convince employees of the plan’s necessity and inform about its practicalities and timetable, reassure customers and suppliers about the sustainability of the activity and defend the image of the company, particularly in the traditional media and on social networks, fields that opponents of the project are likely to invest.
What has changed, on the other hand, is the role of the DIRECCTE, which are at the same time brought to make a decision of validation or ratification of the plans, and which also have a position of facilitator of the social dialog in case of difficulty between the company and the labor unions. For the Human Resources Directors in charge of the project, it means feeding a regular and trustful relation with the DIRECCTE in charge, in order to evidence, through a steady dialogue, the adequacy between the social plan proposed measures with and the means of the company, as well the regularity of the procedure of information-consultation. These regular exchanges throughout the procedure are essential to facilitate the validation or the ratification of the plan.
Once this step is achieved, the company can then focus on two new communications actions as fundamental as the latter: accompanying the implementation of the reorganization and remobilizing the employees whose positions were maintained and who have to assure the recovery of the company.
* We will have the opportunity to debate the consequences of the LSE in details during a round table organized with the Business and Legal Forum on June 9th at Lavinia in Paris (upon invitation)
** Source: Ministry of Labour, Employment, Vocational Training and Social Dialogue