French Employment law - Variable remuneration: documents written in English cannot be enforced against the employee (Cass. soc. October 13rd, 2023 (n°22-13.770).
Any document containing obligations for the employee or provisions knowledge of which is necessary for the performance of his work must be written in French.
This rule is not applicable to documents received from abroad or intended for foreigners.
Incurs the cassation judgment which to dismiss the employee's request for payment of back pay on variable remuneration holds that the circumstance according to which the working documents in the company are written in English cannot be sufficient to make the employee's remuneration plans setting the objectives necessary for determining the contractual variable remuneration, although it had noted that these plans were not drawn up in French, without noting that they had been received from abroad
This is what the Court of Cassation affirms in a decision of October 13rd, 2023 (n°22-13.770).
This solution is not new.
It is in line with the previous case law of the social chamber of the Court of Cassation which had already ruled in this sense and considered that it was of little importance that the company had an international activity (Cass. Soc., May 3, 2018, no ° 16-13.736), that the employee is bilingual ((Cass. Soc., June 29, 2011, n° 09-67.492), or that he works in both languages (French and English) (Cass. Soc., 2 April 2014, n° 12-30.181).
The social chamber has also already recalled this solution in a ruling dated June 7, 2023.
Thus, it does not matter whether the working language of the company is English and whether the employee understands English perfectly, if the objectives are not written in French, the employee is entitled to full payment of his variable remuneration because the documents setting the objectives are unenforceable against it.
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Cass. soc., 13 octobre 2023, n° 22-13.770 https://www.courdecassation.fr/decision/65265beafe43be831806aac5
Rémunération variable : les objectifs doivent impérativement être rédigés en français.
Salariés, cadres, cadres dirigeants : objectifs rédigés en anglais = inopposabilité au salarié https://www.legavox.fr/blog/frederic-chhum-avocats/salaries-cadres-cadres-dirigeants-objectifs-15114.htm
Rémunération variable des salariés : mode d’emploi https://www.village-justice.com/articles/Remuneration-variable-salaries-emploi,10594.html
Frédéric CHHUM avocat et ancien membre du conseil de l’ordre des avocats de Paris (mandat 2019-2021)
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