French Decree on Gender Workplace Equality Specifies New Sanctions

May 03, 2019

A decree issued on 29 April by the French Minister of Labour completes the legislative and regulatory framework for gender equality in the workplace in France.

Companies with more than 50 employees and trade union representatives are required to negotiate an agreement on professional equality between men and women at least every four years, including measures to eliminate pay gaps and quality of life at work. If there is no agreement, the employer must draw up an action plan on the same themes (hiring, training, promotion, actual remuneration, and reconciliation of professional and personal life).

With regard to actual remuneration, companies must use the tools and methodology (including the index) laid down by the law of 5 September 2018.[1]

The decree of 29 April specifies the role of the labour inspectorate when

  • a company is not covered by an agreement on gender workplace equality or, failing that, by an action plan;
  • it has not published the information required by the law of 5 September 2018 on its website;
  • or finally, it has not defined corrective measures when its results are less than 75 out of 100.

The labour inspection control officer shall give notice to the employer to remedy the situation within a time limit that he or she shall set according to the nature of the failure. This period may not be less than one month.

Within the time limit set by the control officer, the employer must communicate by any means the evidence that it is complying with the obligation(s) specified in the formal notice.

If the employer fails to make such communication within the time limit, it faces a financial penalty that should not be confused with the one imposed when the company’s equality index falls below 75 points for the past three years.

The decree specifies that the basis of the penalty (equal to 1% of remuneration and earnings) is composed of the remunerations and earnings of the entire month following the end of the formal notice mentioned above. The penalty is due for each full month of delay from the end of the formal notice until receipt of the requested documents proving that the employer is complying with its obligations in terms of gender equality.

The French Minister of Labour has indicated that she has instructed labour inspectorates to apply these new provisions immediately.


If you have any questions or would like more information on the issues discussed in this LawFlash, please contact any of the following Morgan Lewis lawyers:

Sabine Smith-Vidal
Laetitia de Pelet

[1] Please refer to our prior LawFlashes here, here, and here.