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An employee can be expatriated for an indefinite term

In a recent decision dated 12 September 2018, the French Supreme Court held that the expatriation of an employee may be concluded for an indefinite term.

In this case, the employee, who had brought an action for constructive dismissal before the French courts, argued that the French originating company had failed to fulfil its obligations by not mentioning any duration in the contract governing his expatriation to Indonesia. This contract provided that he was to carry out an assignment as technical director for an indefinite duration.

According to the French Supreme Court, “the provisions of Article R. 1221-34 of the French Labour Code do not prevent the work carried out abroad by the expatriate employee from being provided, in the document mandatorily submitted by the employer, as being of indefinite duration”. The employer therefore sufficiently informed the employee of the duration of the expatriation by informing him that it was concluded for an indefinite period.

In practice, the following lesson can be drawn from this decision: as soon as an employee is sent abroad to take up a permanent position in the host company, the expatriation regime must be applied since it makes it possible to provide for an indefinite period of expatriation.

French Supreme Court, 12 September 2018