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The salary backpay of an employee reclassified to a higher level must be assessed on the basis of the minimum remuneration provided for in the collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”) corresponding to this level

An employee was hired as of September 1, 2008 as a manager, blue-collar status, level III, step 2 of the CBA for hotels, cafés and restaurants of April 30, 1997.

The employee argued that he had in fact been performing the duties of Director, executive status, level V, step 2 of the job classification provided for in the CBA, since March 1, 2010 and claimed for a salary backpay before the Labour court.

The Court of Appeal ordered the employer to pay an amount based on the remuneration claimed by the employee corresponding to the average remuneration of a full-time executive employee on the hôtel, cafés and restaurants market.

The employer appealed against this decision before the French Supreme Court.

Pursuant to Article L. 2254-1 of the French Labour Code, the French Supreme Court quashed the judgment of the Court of Appeal on the grounds that, where an employee is repositioned out a higher level of the CBA job classification, the employer is only required to pay the level of compensation corresponding to the minimum remuneration provided for in the CBA relating to this level.

There should therefore be no ground for a backpay if, despite his/her under-ranking, the employee was already paid more than the minimum remuneration provided for in the CBA corresponding to the claimed job classification level.

French Supreme Court, September 4, 2019, n° 18-11.319