35-hour week negotiations underway in France
• Employers and unions in the French public sector have begun negotiations on introducing the 35-hour week for the country's 5 million statutory employees. Seven unions have entered discussions with public services minister Emile Zuccarelli to reach agreement on a national accord. This will be followed by local discussions in individual sectors on how the 35-hour week will operate. The Government aims to have full implementation by 2002. Le Figaro.
US firms fail to engage in written love contracts
• Nearly three-quarters of US organisations do not have a written policy on workplace romance. An additional 14 per cent have an unwritten yet widely understood policy, a survey of 617 human resources employees by professional body the SHRM found. Of those with loose guidelines, 55 per cent said that policy "permits but discourages" workplace romances. A further 32 per cent have policies consenting romance, while 7 per cent prohibit it completely. Of those prohibiting romance, 88 per cent said it was because of the potential for sexual harassment claims.
European works councils guide launched
• A guide to help firms set up European works councils has been launched by Dublin-based European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions. It contains information on the 386 voluntary agreements set up under the law, and the 63 works councils established under the compulsory statutory process. A multinational has to assemble a consultative works council or employee forum if it employs 1,000 or more staff in the EU, with at least 150 staff in two or more countries, if requested by staff. From 15 January, UK employees have been counted in the formula.