In two recent cases, the French Supreme Court (Cass. soc., 19 mai 2016, n°15-12.137 et n°15-11.047) decided that in case a voluntary departure scheme is included in a social plan (and redundancies are contemplated if the downsizing is not achieved through voluntary departures), the company should comply with its internal redeployment obligation for the employees impacted by the reorganisation, even if they leave under the voluntary departure plan.
The companies at stake argued that they were compliant with their internal redeployment obligation vis-à-vis employees leaving under a voluntary departure plan. They argued that since the employees were volunteers, they had waived their right to the internal redeployment scheme set in the social plan.
In this case, the French Supreme Court illustrates that the internal redeployment obligation varies depending on the type of voluntary departure plan at stake, i.e. whether job cuts are considered or not.
It is indeed only in case of an “autonomous” voluntary departure plan, in which no redundancy are planned as an alternative, that the employer will be exempted from internal redeployment (Cass. soc. 26 octobre 2010, n°09-15.187).
In case of a “mixed” voluntary departure plan, included in a social plan organising redundancies, such as the plan at stake, the company must set an internal redeployment plan and implement it for impacted employees, even if they have already decided to leave under the voluntary departure plan.
Confirming a past decision (Cass. soc. 20 sept. 2006, n° 04-45.703), the French Supreme Court also confirmed that to be compliant with the relevant legal provisions, the internal redeployment obligation must be heeded in the form of written and individual redeployment proposals to employees involved in the plan.