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18/05/2020

[COVID-19] Employment law provisions of Ordinance No. 2020-560 of 13 May 2020 setting the deadlines applicable to various procedures during the period of health emergency

Updated information, as of the date of publication of this article

The main employment law rules applicable to commercial companies under private law and impacted by the Ordinance No.°2020-560 of 13 May 2020 fixing the deadlines applicable to various procedures during the period of health emergency are described here below.

  1. Term of suspension of judicial and administrative time limits

Ordinance No. 2020-306 of 25 March 2020 relating to the extension of time limits during the health emergency period and the adaptation of procedures during this same period introduced a mechanism for the postponement of various time limits and expiry dates and thus defined a “legally protected period”. This period began on 12 March 2020 and was to end at the end of one month from the date of cessation of the state of public health emergency, i.e. initially by midnight on 23 June.

However, the Law No. 2020-546 of 11 May 2020 extended the state of health emergency until 10 July 2020 inclusive, notwithstanding a reduction of confinement measures since 11 May and the consequent resumption of economic activity.

In order to avoid a postponement of the end date of the “legally protected period“, Article 1° of Ordinance No. 2020-560 of 13 May 2020 amends the above-mentioned Ordinance No. 2020-306 and fixes the end date of the “legally protected period” at midnight on 23 June 2020.

Thus, from midnight on 23 June 2020, the various jurisdictional or administrative deadlines will start to run again.

The report to the President of the Republic clarifies the purpose of the text:

“For the sake of legal certainty, the date of 23 June at midnight was chosen because it corresponds to the date anticipated by all stakeholders, taking into account the provisions of Article 4 of the above-mentioned emergency law, which had declared a state of health emergency for a period of two months, i.e. until 23 May at midnight, and the definition of the period legally protected by Ordinance No. 2020-306 (end of the state of health emergency + 1 month)“.

  1. Term of suspension or postponement of professional elections

The Ordinance of 13 May 2020 aims to “neutralize the impact of the extension of the state of health emergency on the suspension or postponement of professional elections in companies”.

Indeed, the Ordinance No. 2020-389 of 1 April 2020 had provided for:

  • – On the one hand, the suspension of ongoing electoral processes until three months after the end of the state of health emergency
  • – On the other hand, the postponement of the electoral processes to be undertaken, which must be triggered within three months of the end of the state of health emergency.

In view of the initial end of the state of health emergency, the ongoing electoral processes were therefore to be resumed from 24 August 2020 and the electoral processes to be initiated were to be resumed between 24 May and 24 August 2020.

The extension of the state of health emergency should have mechanically led to a postponement of the resumption of the professional elections.

However, Article 9 of Ordinance No. 2020-560 of 13 May 2020 amends Articles 1 and 2 of Ordinance No. 2020-389 of 1 April 2020 to defeat this postponement mechanism so that elections can be held before 31 December 2020.

In practice, there are two possible scenarios:

  • – The employer should legally have initiated the election process to establish an ESC before 3 April 2020 or between 3 April and 31 August 2020 inclusive[1]:
    • The electoral process must be initiated by the employer on a date to be freely determined by the employer between 24 May 2020 and 31 August 2020 inclusive;
  • – The employer initiated the legally imposed election process before March 12, 2020:
    • The current electoral process is suspended until 31 August 2020 inclusive.

It should be noted that the Ordinance simplifies the deadlines by replacing the date of August 24, 2020 with August 31, 2020.


1] pursuant to the provisions of Articles L.2311-2 (ESC in companies with at least 11 employees), L.2314-8 (implementation of the procedure at the request of an employee or an OS) or L.2314-10 (in the case of by-elections) of the Labor Code.