• France's news in English
 
app_header_v3

France upholds ban on late-night shop openings

Ben McPartland · 4 Apr 2014, 10:45

Published: 04 Apr 2014 10:45 GMT+02:00

Stores on the Champs-Elysées will have to remain closed late at night after the country’s top constitutional court ruled that a ban on late-openings was within the law.

The landmark case which reignited the debate over French attitudes to work at a time of record high unemployment, arose last September when bosses and staff at Sephora were left furious after trade unions won a court battle to force the cosmetics giant to close its flagship store on the famous Paris avenue by 9pm.

Under French law, companies can ask employees to work between 9:00 pm and 6:00 am but such shifts have to be "exceptional" rather than the rule and justified by a tightly defined set of criteria. 

Sephora challenged this law claiming it was against the principle of freedom of enterprise but on Friday the "sages" at the Constitutional Council rejected the store's argument.

The court ruled that it provided the right balance between the freedoms needed to manage a company and requirements on "protecting the health and rest" of workers - a decision that Sephora said it was "disappointed" with.

Until the September ruling Sephora had been keeping its Champs-Elysées store open until midnight on weekdays and up to 1:00 am on Fridays and Saturdays to capitalise on demand for late-night shopping opportunities from tourists visiting the French capital.

The ruling gave the company little option but to comply. Had it not, it would have had to pay a fine of €80,000 ($108,000) for every day it opened after 9:00pm and for every employee working after that time.

Employees of the store slammed  the unions that brought the case for preventing them from opting to work longer hours for extra pay at a time of record high unemployment.

Prior to the ruling, 58 of the store's 200 employees would regularly volunteer for late-night work. Sephora saleswoman Ines Sampiecro told AFP: "We have been stabbed in the back by the unions."

A 29-year-old employee who identified himself as Emmanuel said the decision was a "disaster". He told Le Parisien newspaper Tuesday that the double pay for working nights and holidays covered nearly all his rent.

But speaking to The Local at the time of the original ruling Eric Sherrer, from the Clip P umbrealla group of trade of trade unions which led the campaign to force Sephora to close by 9pm said this law was for Paris not New York (See link below).

“I don’t care if you can go to the Apple store or Sephora store in New York at any time of the night. If they respect the laws there, good for them, but this is France. Tourists don’t go to New York instead of Paris, just so they can shop at the Apple store after midnight," he said

“France is the first destination in the world for tourists and Paris is the most visited capital city in the world. If we were the least visited country then perhaps we would have a problem and have to look at this again, but we are not."

OPINION: This is not New York, this law is for Paris

Things are unlikely to change anytime soon with new Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo telling The Local recently that she is against turning Paris into a 24/7 shopping city like New York and London.

Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Here's why both sides despise France's labour reforms
Protesters demonstrate in front of the French parliament on Tuesday. All photos: AFP

France's controversial labour reforms are finally before parliament but here's why everyone seems to be up in arms.

Where are the most polluted cities in France?
Photo: Patrick Kovarik/AFP

A new study reveals where the most at-risk areas are in the country.

The French eating habits the world should learn from
The French eat together, that's one thing we could learn from. Photo: AFP

Living in France will change the way you eat and there are good reasons for it.

French bus drivers 'told to count migrants'
Twisto buses. Photo: AFP

A bus company in northern France has brought in "migrant tallies", and the drivers aren't impressed.

Unresponsive Air France jet escorted down in UK
Photo: Jonathon Gross/Flickr

British military jets acted fast to escort down an Air France passenger plane from Paris.

Euro 2016
All you need to know about the mega Paris fan zone
Photo: Lagardère Sports 2016/PACIFA

They say it will be the biggest fanzone ever at a football tournament and it will be right in the heart of Paris.

No booze, no noise: Paris cracks down on Nuit Debout
Photo: AFP

Will the Nuit Debout movement survive a ban on booze and noise?

US stubbornness will end EU free trade deal warns France
Photo: AFP

Washington needs to compromise or the deal could be off, says France.

Corsican separatists 'to end 40-year military operations'
Photo: AFP

Corsica's main militant group has said it will end "military operations".

Sponsored Article
How to launch your international career
Proust's personal archives to go under the hammer in Paris
Sponsored Article
What's the best way for expats to transfer money abroad?
National
Who exactly are the masked rioters causing havoc across France?
French rail passengers must now pay to change their tickets
Sponsored Article
Education abroad: How to find an international school
Travel
Here are nine must-see landmarks in Paris you may have missed
Society
Paris makes love-lock bridge even more love-lock proof
Lifestyle
Parisians paying dearly for their bad 'parking'
Society
What's on in France: Ten great things to do in May
Sponsored Article
Retiring abroad: ensuring your health is covered
Society
Protesters clash with police over France's new labour laws
National
French dangerously 'unprepared' for future natural disasters
Is it really safe to come to France for Euro 2016?
National
Salah Abdeslam: Pot-smoking 'little moron' is finally back in Paris
Rail strike: Passengers in France face major disruption
Cats in a cafe?!? Nine of the quirkiest things you can see in Paris
National
VIDEO: The moment a Paris suicide bomber blew himself up
National
Why there's another rail strike in France and why there will be more
National
Winter is coming (back). Why is France so cold right now?
National
WWI's Anzac Day heroes honoured in northern France service
Lifestyle
VIDEO: Did you know all these stars spoke great French?
Culture
How did the French end up with their 'crazy' numbers?
Politics
Why this man could become the next president of France
Society
VIDEO: Jewellers in southern France raided by... swarm of bees
Culture
Did you know the strange origins of these six French curse words?
Why are more and more people dying on French roads?
2,773
jobs available