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Forfait jours for journalists: A ruling favorable for employers

Thursday 22 March 2018

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SUD-AFP will appeal the ruling handed down by the Paris Superior Court on 20 March 20181 which upheld two key points of the “Grand Accord” of 20172: the forfait jours for AFP journalists and the notion of “being on call with editorial monitoring”. The reason for the appeal is clear: the court’s ruling is unfavorable to employees and trade unions which defend them. Moreover, the ruling could become a precedent used against journalists elsewhere.

We won’t comment here about the legal aspects of a ruling that appears to be more of a cut and paste of AFP’s legal brief than a well-argumented decision. Nevertheless, here are several remarks from a trade union perspective.

On the issue of the forfait jours, the signatories of the “Grand Accord” supplied the judge with an argument that doesn’t correspond with reality: that of the “journalist statute”. The essence of their argument is this: given that journalists benefit from their own statute, guaranteed by the National Journalists Convention, the Labor Code and – in our specific case – AFP’s Statute, they benefit automatically from an autonomy in the organization of their work. This autonomy is a precondition for eligibility for the forfait jours, which according to the court is a “natural corollary” of the “principle of editorial independence” of journalists.
Once this principle is established, the court does not need to conduct a concrete examination of how the work of journalists is organized in reality. Whether they are subject to scheduled work hours, working hours dictated by the news flow, the constraints of working as part of a team, or long and intense work – it doesn’t matter. This fantasy about the independent journalist, who is thereby also autonomous, obscures the employee!

To read the remainder of this statement, please download our printable PDF file