Key facts of the case:
Mr. X. referred to the employment court following the termination of his contract during the probation period by the Socolit company. He asked for the termination to be ruled unlawful and to order the Socolit company to pay various sums of money, including for overtime. The Court of Appeal of Douai dismissed the employee's request for payment of overtime, by considering that the individual fixed rate convention, signed by the parties, comes under the scope of the national collective agreement of accountant firms.
Outcome of the case:
The Court of cassation overturned the ruling of the Court of Appeal which in dismissing the employee's demand for payment of overtime ruled that the individual fixed rate convention, signed by the parties, comes under the scope of the national collective agreement of accountant firms.
Indeed, according to the Court of cassation, the provisions of the national collective agreement of accountant firms, which restricts itself to providing, initially, that the workload required must not oblige an employee to exceed a limit on the daily duration of effective work, fixed at ten hours, and a limit on the weekly duration of effective work, fixed at forty-eight hours, and that exceeding these must be exceptional and justified by the employee, secondly, it requires the employer to take measures to ensure respect of the daily and weekly rest periods, and, thirdly, that the employee has great freedom in the management or the organization of the work corresponding to their role and in determining their work time, the employee and the employer examine together, in order to provide a solution, any situations in which these provisions taken by the employer to ensure respect of the daily and weekly rest periods could not be respected, are not likely to guarantee that the size of the workload remains reasonable and ensures a good distribution, over time, of the work of the interested party, and, therefore, to ensure the protection of the health and safety of the employee. The Court of Appeal should thus conclude that the fixed days convention was invalid.
'Considering Article 151 of the Treaty on the operation of the European Union referring to the European Social Charter and the Community Charter of the Fundamental Social Rights of Workers, Article L. 3121-45 of the Labour code in its drafting prior to law No. 2008-789 of 20 August 2008, interpreted in light of Article 17, paragraphs 1 and 4, of Directive 1993-104 EC of the Council of 23 November 1993, of Articles 17, paragraph 1, and 19 of Directive 2003-88 EC of the European Parliament and the Council of 4 November 2003 and article 31 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union […]
Given that, initially, the right to health and rest has a the number of constitutional requirements;
Given that, subsequently, it results from the articles referred to above of the directives of the European Union that the Member States can derogate from the provisions relating to the duration of working time only if they respect the general principles of protection of the safety and the health of the worker […]'
« Vu l'article 151 du Traité sur le fonctionnement de l'Union européenne se référant à la Charte sociale européenne et à la Charte communautaire des droits sociaux fondamentaux des travailleurs, l'article L. 3121-45 du code du travail dans sa rédaction antérieure à la loi n° 2008-789 du 20 août 2008, interprété à la lumière de l'article 17, paragraphes 1 et 4, de la directive 1993-104 CE du Conseil du 23 novembre 1993, des articles 17, paragraphe 1, et 19 de la directive 2003-88 CE du Parlement européen et du Conseil du 4 novembre 2003 et de l'article 31 de la Charte des droits fondamentaux de l'Union européenne…
Attendu, d'abord, que le droit à la santé et au repos est au nombre des exigences constitutionnelles ;
Attendu, ensuite, qu'il résulte des articles susvisés des directives de l'Union européenne que les Etats membres ne peuvent déroger aux dispositions relatives à la durée du temps de travail que dans le respect des principes généraux de la protection de la sécurité et de la santé du travailleur… »