The French employee representative bodies, the Social and Economic Committees, have a new role in monitoring the environmental implication of employers’ projects.

The Social and Economic Committee (CSE) is the representative body for staff in France, made up of elected members of staff (elections take place in principle every four years), in companies with at least 11 employees.

The prerogatives of the Committee are much more important in companies with at least 50 employees: the employer must inform and consult the Committee on questions and projects concerning the organization, management and general running of the company (for example : restructuring projects). This consultation must take place before any implementation of the employer’s decision.

In addition, the Committee is consulted periodically (in principle: every year) on:

  • the strategic direction of the company;
  • the economic and financial situation of the company;
  • corporate social policy.

The mission of the Committee is “traditionally” described as follows:

“Ensure the collective expression of employees, allowing their interests to be permanently taken into account in decisions relating to the management and economic and financial development of the company, the organization of work, vocational training and techniques of production ” .

This means that the Committee is competent in economic and social matters. But, for the first time, a law of August 22, 2021 extends its jurisdiction to environmental issues.

This means that henceforth, for all matters on which the Committee must be consulted, the employer must inform the Committee of the environmental consequences of the actions or proposals of the company. In other words, the information given to the Committee as part of the consultation process must now include an assessment of the environmental consequences of the employer’s projects. This is a significant change in the role of the CSE; it is no longer limited to representing the interests of employees, but is also involved in issues of environmental protection.

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