• 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
It's official: France finally gets its new map
Photo: AFP

So, how well do you know the new map?

Sexism at the wheel: France wants more women drivers
Photo: State Farm/Flickr

Because the men are causing all the accidents.

VIDEOS: France's raunchiest TV commercials of all time
Photo: Gifi

Two sexually-charged adverts have got people hot under the collar in France, a little strange perhaps given the history of the French for making raunchy adverts. Take a look back through time at these famously steamy ads.

Why are foreign students in France 'Europe's unhappiest'?
Students at a university in Normandy. Photo: AFP

... for the fourth year in a row.

Education in France
The troubles with French universities laid bare
Students in Lyon. Photo: AFP

Classrooms overflowing, a serious lack of funding, and a flailing reputation abroad... what exactly is wrong with France's university system? The Local's Oliver Gee takes a closer look.

Studying in France
How to survive Paris on a student budget
Are you a student in Paris? Here's how to save some money. Photo: AFP

With students from all over the world descending on Paris for the start of a new term, we take a look at the best ways to save money while living in the French capital on a shoestring.

Where in France has the cleanest and dirtiest air?
Photo: AFP

No, Paris doesn't have the dirtiest.

Court could give 'depressed' French nation right to smile
Photo: Jens Bergander/Flickr

"Is it really responsible, in a depressed France, that the authorities forbid the French from smiling... (on their ID photos)"

Is Hollande's last budget target really credible?
Photo: AFP

The president says the budget is "serious" but many would disagree.

China turns to Brittany cows to feed its babies
Photo: AFP

Far east giant provides a boost for Brittany's beleaguered dairy farmers.

Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Education
The troubles with French universities laid bare
Culture
The crazy French writing phrases you can't get your head around
Features
Room for improvement: Paris's matchbox apartments
'Stop telling immigrants to be French and help it happen'
Society
Take the test: How far have you assimilated into French culture?
Lifestyle
Eleven things you should know before moving to Paris
National
France's Marion Cotillard rebuffs rumours of fling with Brad Pitt
National
Eight arrested over links to Nice truck attacker
Features
Why everyone should party in a French chateau at least once
Travel
The Frenchman who hated 'Nazi-Zealand' after four-day hitch-hike fail
Culture
What's on: Ten exciting events across France in September
The 45-million year old underground shells that flavour Champagne
Features
French job speak: All the terms you need to know
'Resilient' Paris now a more appealing city than New York
National
France says it's OK to warn drivers about speed cameras
Meet Honorine, 113, the oldest person in France
Education
Grenoble named France's best city to be a student
Society
New Metro map reveals cheapest pints of beer in Paris
Business & Money
How reliant is the French economy on Paris?
Society
Here's why Parisians want to move to Bordeaux
And the 'best place to spend a weekend in Europe' is… Lyon
Analysis & Opinion
'Muslims in France must be considered ordinary citizens'
Armed guards to ride French trains from October
2,728
jobs available