French legal threat over M&S closures

Marks &
Spencer directors could face fines, or ultimately jail, if they fail to observe
a lengthy consultation process after a French court ruled its decision to shut
18 stores was illegal.

The firm’s
plans to close its operation in France before the end of the year, with the
loss of 1,700 jobs, are now on hold because it failed to comply with French
consultation laws.

If M&S
does not abide by its legal obligations, directors would face the threat of
prosecution for contempt of court.

French law
requires companies to inform works councils in writing before making major
decisions.

M&S
should have given the works council a dossier detailing its proposals, the
reasons for them and the effect they would have on employees’ lives  before 
announcing redundancies.

It should
have been received “in sufficient time” – around 10 days before the
announcement.

By law
M&S should only have taken a decision to make redundancies once the consultation
period, which could last several months, was over.

An M&S
spokesman said staff would be consulted fully about the proposed job losses.

 

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