The French law on the recognition and development of the social and solidarity economy, which has been in force since August 2014, introduces changes to the status and functioning of worker cooperatives, creates a regime for employment and activity cooperatives and relaxes the status of collective interest cooperatives flexible in France.
The participants at the international cooperatives meeting organised by CICOPA and CG Scop in November 2012 in Marseille, have already been given the opportunity to become acquainted with the proposal for this law, the aim of which, according to Benoît Hamon, who was the French Minister for the Social and Solidarity Economy at the time, is to create a “cooperative shockwave” and to double the number of worker cooperatives over the next five years.
Company buy-outs by the workers
The law favours the buy-out, by the workers, of companies with less than 250 workers, by introducing a requirement to provide information when the company owner decides to sell his business or his securities, stocks or shares which give access to the majority of the capital. The owner is required to notify the workers of his intention to sell so as to enable the workers to submit a bid.
Relaxation of the status of collective interest cooperatives
The law relaxes the conditions relating to the creation and functioning of collective interest cooperatives (Scic). Amongst other things, it provides for the possibility of creating a Scic with the producers of goods and services who are not employees; the possibility of holding up to 50% of the capital of the Scic for local authorities (this had hitherto been limited to 20%) and also allows them to recruit young people on the basis of assisted employment contracts.
Employment and activity cooperatives
The law defines the missions and the operating rules of employment and activity cooperatives (CAE) and the status of the entrepreneur-employee. The latter is a natural person who creates and develops an economic activity whilst benefitting from individually tailored support and pooled services made available by the CAE with a view to becoming a member within three years starting from the date of the conclusion of his contract with the cooperative. The social status of the entrepreneur-employee who has become a member is legally recognised as being the same as that of the employees.
The law creates the status of start-up cooperatives which, in particular, allows a non-cooperator member to hold more than half of the capital of a worker cooperative for a maximum of seven years. The tax system for worker cooperatives has been modified accordingly. It is now applicable in the event that a company is converted into a cooperative, even if the workers do not hold the majority of the capital but do hold the majority of the voting rights.
Similarly, the cooperatives may decide to use the cooperative’s reserves in order to buy the members’ shares subscribed by non-cooperator members in the seven year period following the conversion of the cooperative. The law also facilitates the creation of cooperative groupings by allowing one of them or the worker members to hold the majority of the capital and of the voting rights of another worker cooperative which is part of the same group.
You can read the complete text of the law on the social and solidarity economy here: http://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/affichTexte.do?cidTexte=JORFTEXT000029313296&dateTexte=&categorieLien=id
International Organisation of Industrial, Artisanal and
Service Producers' Cooperatives
Secretariat: C/O European Cooperative House - avenue Milcamps 105
1030 Brussels, Belgium
Tel: +32 2 543 1033, fax: +32 2 543 1037