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French parliament adopts softer law against plant shutdowns
July 22, 2014 / 9:26 AM / 3 years ago

French parliament adopts softer law against plant shutdowns

PARIS, July 22 (Reuters) - The French parliament adopted a watered down version of a law against plant closures that will require healthy firms to prove they have sought an acquirer for any operation due to be shut down, but without the threat of hefty fines.

Socialist President Francois Hollande had championed a tougher version which foresaw fines of up to $1,900 per worker for companies that failed to exhaust all options to find an acquirer.

But a top court struck down that version of the law in March, in a setback for a president who had promised blue collar voters during his 2012 presidential campaign that he would crack down on firms that shutter plants deemed economically viable.

Parliament passed a revamped version of the law late on Monday that does not include the fines which the court had ruled amounted to an unconstitutional infringement on freedom of enterprise.

The revamped law nonetheless requires firms to show the Labour Ministry that they have sought to find an acquirer for a plant before shutting it down.

If a commercial court deems the efforts insufficient, firms can be made to reimburse up to two years’ of public subsidies or tax breaks awarded to the company.

The managers of firms with more than 250 employees will also have to inform their workers of any plans to shut down or sell their operations at least two months before the decision goes into effect.

Separately, the National Assembly voted to increase a rebate on welfare charges for a range of domestic jobs, as official data showed the number of hours worked in the field had dropped off sharply in the first quarter of 2014.

Interim job companies had complained bitterly about earlier increases in welfare charges, saying they pushed private employers to pay for domestic work in cash rather than using cheques with prepaid taxes. (Reporting by Emily Picy; Writing by Nicholas Vinocur; Editing by Ingrid Melander)

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