European Foundation
for the Improvement of
Living and Working Conditions

The tripartite EU agency providing knowledge to assist
in the development of better social, employment and
work-related policies

EU PolicyWatch

Database of national-level policy measures

Eurofound's EU PolicyWatch collates information on the responses of government and social partners to the COVID-19 crisis, the war in Ukraine, rising inflation, as well as gathering examples of company practices aimed at mitigating the social and economic impacts.

Factsheet for measure FR-2020-12/1170 – measures in France

Bigard group agreement prioritises measures to avoid partial unemployment

Accord de groupe Bigard du 26 mars 2020 sur les mesures exceptionnelles pour faire face à l’épidémie de Covid-19

Country France , applies nationwide
Time period Temporary, 16 March 2020 – 26 April 2020
Context COVID-19
Type Bipartite collective agreements
Category Employment protection and retention
– Working time and working time flexibility
Author Frédéric Turlan (IRshare) and Eurofound
Measure added 23 September 2020

Background information

On 26 March 2020, the management of the Bigard group signed an agreement with three representative unions – CFDT (leading union), CFE-CGC and FO – on exceptional measures for each establishment to manage working time and also to mitigate the COVID-19 crisis impact on wages. The CGT is not a signatory. This framework agreement, which covers all the French sites of the third largest European meat process manufacturer, applies to 13,000 employees. It should make it possible both to enhance, throughout the crisis, the commitment of employees, whose activity is essential, and to manage the under-activity of certain establishments. It also sets out the procedures for informing employee representative bodies throughout the crisis.

Content of measure

The agreement underlines that a significant drop in activity will affect certain services, workshops or establishments. This situation is due to the cancellation of orders, supply difficulties, or the impossibility of maintaining an activity 'due to the failure of service providers or absenteeism' . If setting up work-study teams or internal mobility measures are not enough to address this situation of underemployment, the agreement proposes the mobilisation of 'hours and days off counters'.

Measures to avoid recourse to partial unemployment

At the sites, the management can use the following four devices in the order of priority set by the group agreement. These are:

  • the modulation of working hours, for workers and employees, with the setting of the schedule within the lower limit of 35 hours ;
  • asking managers and supervisors to take days granted as part of agreements on the reduction of working hours;
  • the use of rest days deposited in a time-saving account;
  • the taking of paid holidays.

Each system is implemented with a 24-hour notice period. The first three tools can be used within an overall limit of ten days. Paid holidays may be taken for up to five working days. Recourse to short-time working is envisaged as a last resort. The deployment of partial activity, whether in the form of reduced working hours or the closure of an establishment, must be validated and then monitored by senior management.

Management of essential skills

According to the agreement, it is necessary to develop the skills essential to the continuity of the group's "vital" activity. Indeed, the "novel" measures made necessary by the health crisis are disrupting personal life. In addition, the "barrier" measures implemented by the employer have a significant impact on the organisation of services and workshops. This valorisation of skills is primarily based on an increase in the internal professional mobility bonus paid for each day of mobility (increase of €10 per day).

Another counterpart provided for in the agreement concerns the remuneration of overtime worked from 16 March to 26 April. Employees who wish to do so, for any hours worked between 35 and 42 hours, are offered the option of benefiting from the social and tax regime for overtime and a 25% pay rise, rather than having them managed under the usual working time modulation scheme. The pay increase is increased to 50% for hours worked beyond 42 hours. The agreement specifies that the succession of busy weeks must remain under control. Management may refuse to allow certain essential employees to take paid leave. The taking of the fifth week's holiday can be postponed beyond 31 May 2020.

Information for employee representatives

The agreement organises information for the Information and consultation bodies at the level of each establishment. It covers the implementation of each work organisation measure applied within the framework of this agreement. It is specified that recourse to short-time working is the subject of information and consultation with the establishment's social and economic committee. At group level, management will inform the trade union coordinators (the shop-steward of the representative unions at group level) at weekly telephone briefings. The exchange will enable, in particular, the monitoring of the group's activity levels and absenteeism. It provides for a 'specific focus' in the event of partial activity.

Use of measure

This framework agreement, which covers all the French sites of the third largest European meat process manufacturer, applies to 13,000 employees on national level and 28 slaughterhouses.


  • Bonuses
  • Leave arrangements
  • Other topics
  • Training and employability
  • Working time flexibility

Target groups

Workers Businesses Citizens
Employees in standard employment
Applies to all businesses Does not apply to citizens

Actors and funding

Actors Funding
Social partners jointly
Trade unions
Company / Companies
No special funding required

Social partners

Social partners' role in designing the measure and form of involvement:

Trade unions Employers' organisations
Role Agreed (outcome) incl. social partner initiative Consulted
Form Not applicable Not applicable

Social partners' role in the implementation, monitoring and assessment phase:

  • Social partners jointly
  • Main level of involvement: Company level


Three of the four representative trade unions have negotiated the measures and signed the agreement.

Views and reactions

The three representative trade unions support the measures included in the agreement as the signed it.

Sectors and occupations

    • Economic area Sector (NACE level 2)
      C - Manufacturing C10 Manufacture of food products

This case is not occupation-specific.


  • 25 March 2020: Décret n° 2020-325 du 25 mars 2020 relatif à l'activité partielle (
  • 25 March 2020: Ordonnance no 2020-323 du 25 mars 2020 portant mesures d’urgence en matière de congés payés, de durée du travail et de jours de repos (
  • 26 March 2020: Accord de groupe Bigard du 26 mars 2020 sur les mesures exceptionnelles pour faire face à l’épidémie de Covid-19


Eurofound (2020), Bigard group agreement prioritises measures to avoid partial unemployment, measure FR-2020-12/1170 (measures in France), EU PolicyWatch, Dublin,

Eurofound publications based on EU PolicyWatch

19 May 2022


Working life in the COVID-19 pandemic 2021

This publication consists of individual country reports on working life during 2021 for 28 countries (the 27 EU Member States and Norway).


24 June 2020


COVID-19: Policy responses across Europe

This report aims to present an overview of both large-scale government measures and collective agreements that impact on large groups of workers.

16 June 2022


COVID-19 in the workplace: Employer's responsibility to ensure a safe workplace

Throughout 2021, the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, specific occupational health and safety rules were reintroduced due to increases in infection rates.


16 June 2022


Back to work after COVID-19: Testing, vaccines and green certificates

In the second pandemic year 2021, access to one's place of work was increasingly dependent on providing proof of either having been tested, vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19 in several countries.

Disclaimer: This information has not been subject to the full Eurofound evaluation, editorial and publication process.