I/ What is the Social and Economic Committee? 🔍
According to the definition of the public service, “The social and economic committee (SEC) is the body representing the staff in the company. The SCE must be set up in companies with more than 11 employees. The members of the SCE are elected by the employees of the company for a maximum period of 4 years. Its competences, composition and functioning vary according to the size of the company.”
This body was created in 2017 by Emmanuel Macron and merges the former employee representative bodies (IRP), namely:
- the works council
- the staff delegates
- the health, safety and working conditions committee
The SEC according to the size of the company
The setting up of a SEC depends on the size of the company. Also, depending on the number of employees, the conditions and the organization of the members of the SEC vary.
1. Companies with less than 11 employees
For small companies with less than 11 employees, the setting up of a SEC is not possible. It becomes compulsory if the minimum number of 11 employees is reached during 12 consecutive months.
2. Companies with 11 to 49 employees
All structures with more than 11 employees are obliged to set up a SEC:
- Employers under private law, whatever the legal form and activity of the company (commercial companies, civil companies, associations)
- Public establishments of an industrial and commercial nature
- Public establishments of an administrative nature employing staff under private law
Here, the SEC exercises part of the missions which were in charge of the staff delegates and the the health, safety and working conditions committee.
It reports individual or collective complaints on salaries and the application of labor regulations, with the possibility of intervening with the labor inspectorate (however, the SEC will no longer be able to accompany the labor inspector during a visit to the company, as this rule is only provided for companies with at least 50 employees).
It promotes health, safety and working conditions in the company. The SEC can carry out investigations into accidents at work and occupational diseases. It exercises the right to alert in case of infringement of personal rights and in case of serious and imminent danger. The SEC may include a health, safety and working conditions committee.
Consequently, the SEC in companies with 11 to less than 50 employees does not have a legal personality and does not have its own budget.
3. Companies with more than 50 employees
In structures with more than 50 employees, the SEC is also mandatory and is organized differently.
Here, the SEC corresponds to the instance of collective expression of the employees’ interests. The aim is to integrate their opinion(s) and needs in the decision making concerning the management and the economic and financial life of the company, the organization of work, the professional training and the production techniques.
Moreover, the SEC plays an important role in the field of health, safety and working conditions.
In this type of structure (< 50 employees), the SEC is consulted on questions concerning
the organization, management and general running of the company, in particular on :
- measures likely to affect the volume or structure
of the workforce
- the modification of the economic or legal organization of the
legal organization of the company
- employment and working conditions
- the introduction of new technologies and
the introduction of new technologies and major changes in
health and safety conditions or working conditions
- measures taken to facilitate work, in particular the layout of workstations
Finally, the SEC of companies with more than 50 employees benefits from advantageous.
The employer provides a room, in order to allow the members to accomplish their mission and to meet. The employees who are members of the SEC also benefit from a credit
hours, depending on the size of the company. In this case, the SEC has an operating budget and a budget for social and cultural activities.
The composition of the SEC and the SEC office
Composition of the social and economic committee
Depending on the size of the company, the SEC can have 1 to 35 members.
In any case, the SEC body must be composed of the employer, the elected members of the SEC as well as the trade union representatives.
- Composition of the SEC : the employer
The employer is the first member of the SEC and is the president of this body. His role is important because he has to establish the agenda of the meetings with the secretary of the SEC. As a full member of the SEC, he also has the right to vote. Moreover, he is in charge of convening the members of the SEC to the meetings.
- Composition of the SEC : the elected members of the SEC
The SEC includes the employer and a staff delegation (also called elected members of the SEC). The staff delegation is composed of an equal number of members and substitutes, determined either by agreement, or in application of the Labor Code, depending on the number of employees in the company. The occupational physician and the person in charge of the safety department participate in meetings devoted to working conditions.
The alternates replace the titular representatives only in case of absence of one of them. If the substitutes wish to work on a SEC mission, it is necessary that the titular members transfer to them a credit of delegation hours.
- Composition of the SEC : the trade union representatives
In large companies with more than 300 employees, each trade union organization representative in the company or establishment can appoint a representative to sit on the SEC. The union representatives have a consultative voice at the meetings of the SEC. They can discuss and put forward arguments but do not have the right to vote. The employer must then invite them when new elections take place in order to come and negotiate the Pre-electoral Agreement Protocol (PAP).
- The labor inspectorate is invited to meetings on health and safety and working conditions.
- The term of office of the members of the CSE is fixed at 4 years. This duration can be reduced to 3 or 2 years by collective agreement.
- The elected members of the CSE have the status of protected employees.
Composition of the office of the social and economic committee
Depending on the size of the company, the social and economic committee can be equipped with an office of the SEC, which represents the body and guarantees its proper functioning. This office is composed of a president, a secretary and a treasurer.
The chairperson keeps the same functions and role.
The secretary of the SEC, on the other hand, is the spokesperson for the employer. He is elected by the members of the SEC at the first meeting. In addition to writing the agenda with the employer for each meeting of the SEC, he is in charge of writing the minutes of the meeting. He has to take notes on the meeting and have the minutes validated by the majority of the elected representatives present during the meeting. Finally, the secretary of the SEC is in charge of the daily business. He animates the meetings and organizes them beforehand. As the secretary of the SEC has a heavy workload, he/she can be accompanied by an assistant secretary.
The treasurer of the SEC, on the other hand, has to check and follow the good economic and accounting management of the SEC. He is responsible for the two budgets of the SEC, the operating budget and the budget for social and cultural activities. The first budget is intended for the good functioning of the SEC and the second for the financing of actions linked to leisure and culture for the employees. The treasurer is also in charge of opening and managing the bank accounts of the SEC for both budgets. The treasurer is in charge of preparing the annual activity report of the SEC.
The consultation obligations of the SEC
In companies with more than 50 employees, the SEC must be consulted on various aspects of the company. The consultation of the SEC is necessary so that it can give an opinion on
- the strategic orientations of the company
- the economic and financial situation of the company
- the social policy, working conditions and employment within the company
Unless a collective agreement provides otherwise, the employer must consult the SEC annually on these three topics. During these consultations, the SEC must also be informed of the environmental consequences of the company’s activity.
Sanctions in case of obstruction of the SEC
The offence of obstruction refers to the fact of undermining the proper functioning of the SEC. It takes place when an action or an omission of the employer prevents the elected members of the CSE from correctly exercising their role by defending the interest of the employees.
When the offence of obstruction is recognized, the law provides for penal sanctions against the employer. However, the offence must have three specific characteristics to be valid:
- a legal element
- a material element
- a moral element
The legal element consists in establishing the correlation between the law and the offence committed. Despite the fact that the employer can sometimes infringe upon employee representatives, it is not always easy to link the offence to a specific legal text. However, this is one of the fundamental points to establish an offence of obstruction.
The material element refers to the action or omission of the employer that caused the offence of obstruction. The fault may result from an action of the employer, such as disseminating false information or exerting pressure to discourage employees from running for office. But it can also be more subtle, resulting from an omission, such as not wanting to pay the operating budget of the SEC or not attending the SEC meetings.
The moral element, on the other hand, aims at determining whether the employer’s fault was intentional or not. If the offence of obstruction is voluntary, the sanctions are obviously more severe. However, even if the employer did not voluntarily commit the offence, this does not excuse his fault, because no one is supposed to ignore the law and it is his responsibility to respect it.
The offences of obstruction can be multiple, to give you an idea, we will give you 5 examples.
Absence of the establishment of the SEC
As mentioned above, the implementation of the CSE is mandatory in companies with more than 11 employees (over a period of 12 consecutive months). This law was introduced in 2020 and not complying with it constitutes an offence of obstruction.
The absence of a CSE has an impact on the necessary information-consultations:
- dismissal for professional or non-professional inaptitude (no SEC, therefore dismissal without real or serious cause)
- collective dismissal for economic reasons (negotiation with the SEC necessary, without CSE this procedure is considered irregular)
- the denunciation of a usage (without SEC, the employer’s decision is not opposable to the employees)
- the setting up or the enforceability of internal regulations (these can only be introduced or modified after consultation of the SEC)
- the establishment of profit-sharing within the company (the possibility of instituting a profit-sharing measure within the company is granted to “any company which satisfies the obligations incumbent on the employer in terms of staff representation”. Without a SEC, the employer could not validly conclude a profit-sharing agreement).
Do not meet periodically
Once set up, the SEC is obliged to meet regularly in order to deal with important issues. These meetings are made up of all the members of the SEC and the employer. The employer must ensure that the meetings are held at regular intervals in order to guarantee a regular exchange between the elected representatives and the company’s management.
Modifying the agenda of a SEC meeting
The French Labor Code specifies that it is mandatory to set an agenda for SEC meetings. This makes it possible to set out in advance the topics that will be discussed during the meeting in order to give each elected representative time to prepare. Once determined by the secretary of the SEC and the employer, the agenda cannot be modified.
Some meetings deal with sensitive and important subjects, which sometimes imply a deep disagreement between the elected representatives and the employer. If the employer has committed himself on the agenda to deal with the subject in question, he cannot withdraw.
Not submitting the company social report
When a company has more than 300 employees, the management is obliged to establish and share with the SEC the company’s social report. This document contains key information on working conditions, employee remuneration, workforce, professional training, etc. The non-disclosure of this document is a crime of obstruction to the SEC.
Encourage employees not to go through the elected representatives of the SEC to communicate complaints.
The elected representatives of the SEC are the employees’ representatives who ensure communication with the management. If an employee encounters a problem, he/she can choose to talk to the management or to go through the SEC beforehand. The employer cannot in any way influence employees or encourage them not to go through the SEC. Nor can he refuse to hear their complaints if they have not previously seen the SEC.
Note: the penalties for obstruction in the above-mentioned contexts are one year of imprisonment and a fine of €7,500.
II/ What does a SEC meeting consist of? 💡
Types of SEC meetings
1. Periodic meetings (monthly)
Again, this depends on the number of employees in the company. For the structures of 11 to 49 employees, the periodic meetings must have a recurrence of 1 per month minimum. For companies with more than 50 employees, the number of SEC meetings is fixed by collective agreement, without being inferior to 6 per year. In the absence of an agreement, the SEC meets at least :
- once every 2 months in companies with less than 300 employees
- once a month in companies with more than 300 employees
2. Extraordinary meetings (emergency, request from members…)
In small companies with 11 employees or more, extraordinary meetings are held in case of emergency or individual request.
In large structures with more than 50 employees, these meetings are held following :
- the request of the majority of the members of the SEC
- the request of two members for reasons of health, safety or working conditions
- following a serious accident or environmental damage
The convocation and the participants of the SEC meeting
The convocations are individual. They are sent by the head of the company or his representative.
There is no compulsory or specific way of sending them, but it is recommended, for the sake of evidence, to send written invitations.
Only the elected representatives holders attend the meetings. The employer is not obliged to send an invitation to the substitutes. The latter attend only in case of absence of the titular representatives.
The organization of a SEC meeting
The dates of a SEC meeting are communicated in advance in order to facilitate the organization of the participants. The agenda is determined in advance and the invitations are sent three days in advance to each participant. The meeting usually starts with a brainstorming in order to get everyone’s opinions and expectations. Then, the agenda must be followed and respected, and each participant is given time to speak. Note-taking is imperative during the exchange. At the end of this meeting, a minute will be drawn up by the SEC secretary, in which the deliberations, decisions and measures decided upon will appear.
The legality of the minutes of the SEC
The deliberations taken by the members of the SEC during the meeting must be reported as such in the minutes. It is the secretary of the social and economic committee who is responsible for writing the minutes. The deadline for the transcription of the minutes is also regulated. It is the object of an agreement between the employer and the SEC itself, and must be adopted by the majority of the full members of the committee.
Once the minutes have been drawn up, they can be posted or distributed in the company according to the conditions adopted by the internal regulations. It is of course sent to the employer. The employer will have to give his decision concerning the proposals that have been made during the meeting following the communication of the minutes to the SEC. The employer’s answers will then also be recorded in the minutes.
Also, the minutes can sometimes contain confidential information. In this case, they will be deleted from the minutes which will be distributed and published publicly and two versions will be kept. The minutes of the SEC are generally transmitted to the labor inspectorate or to the occupational medicine but not to people outside the company or even to the employees.
Note: the Secretary is the only person authorized to sign the minutes of the SEC, but many internal regulations also provide for the joint signature of the President. However, it is not compulsory to provide a copy of the minutes to the Chairman before sending them to the elected representatives.
III/ Why and how to transcribe a SEC meeting ? 📝
What is the transcription of a SEC meeting
Transcribing a SEC meeting means taking notes during the exchange and then writing a report of what was said. The objective is to have a written record of all the discussions, ideas, debates and decisions made during the meeting. The transcription of a SEC meeting must be precise and objective.
To succeed in producing a good transcript, I invite you to consult our article which explains all the steps to follow.
Solutions for transcribing a SEC meeting
For the transcription of your SEC meeting, several options are available to you :
Call on an external service provider
Stenotyping is a method of capturing speech in its entirety at the natural speed of speech. It is a complex craft that uses a keyboard similar to a typewriter. It allows the input of text in a simplified phonetic form. The keyboard is then composed of a limited number of keys. Stenographers are strictly trained and it is a job that requires a lot of effort.
Transcription (agency or individual)
You can hire a transcriber to go to the meeting and take down the entire meeting and then clean up the minutes.
Alternatively, you can record the meeting and send it to a transcription agency that will send you the minutes within a few days.
However, these solutions remain very expensive and are not always reliable for confidentiality reasons.
Use automatic transcription software
Another option : use software! Today’s technological advances make it possible to achieve effective speech-to-text results. Have you ever heard of Noota? It is THE solution that will allow you to obtain accurate reports and transcriptions, while respecting your confidential information, and at a lower cost !
By making this choice, you can be autonomous, no need to call on an external service, no need to spend thousands of dollars, and above all, you keep control of your entire text! Everything remains editable.
I let you consult our guide to master and understand our tool 100%. It’s worth it !
Recording a SEC meeting, is it legal?
Indeed, whether you want to transmit the audio to an external service or for Noota to transcribe your CSE meeting, recording the exchange is necessary. But in this case, is it legal? Well, yes!
All you have to do is inform the participants beforehand. This decision must be taken in agreement with the members of the SEC and in compliance with the rules of procedure.