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Stress at Work: Experiencing ‘Name and Shame’ in France

Written by
Capstan Avocats, the law firm setting the benchmark for labour law in France.
Stress at Work: Experiencing 'Name and Shame' in France

On October 9, 2009, Xavier Darcos, Minister of Labour, announced the creation of a contingency plan on the prevention of psychosocial risks in the public and private sectors. One of the first steps of this plan involved encouraging negotiations on stress in all companies with more than 1.000 employees.

Even though there is no specific national survey on stress at work in France, according to periodic government surveys more than half of all employees work in emergency situations, more than one-third receive contradictory orders or guidance,  and one-third cite situations of tension in their relationships with their colleagues or their superiors.

Without any law or specific legal basis, companies were invited by the Minister to enter into negotiations before February 1, 2010. The companies that failed to reach an agreement on how to deal with stress by that date, had to submit a diagnosis and draw up a plan of action in consultation with their staff representatives. In mid-February the report entitled “The status of the prevention of occupational stress in companies with more than 1.000 employees” was published on the official website.

In this report firms were classified into three categories (green, orange or red) depending on the progress of discussions within their organizations:

  • Fifty-five percent of the 900 firms that responded were classified as “orange” (discussions held without having reached agreement);
  • One-third were classified as “green” (signing of a substantive agreement or pre-agreement, or a plan of action);
  • The remaining 12%, and the 600 firms who didn’t answer, were classified as “red” (no evidence to see a commitment to negotiate or take action on stress).


The day the three lists were published, the website recorded 125.000 hits and 1.2 million page views. But following complaints from some firms listed, the categories “red” and “orange” were removed from the site. The Minister said, however, that the process of “name and shame” will not be abandoned. An updated list should be published within a few weeks.

Jean-Benoît Cottin
Associate - France
Capstan Avocats