The minimum length of service requirement for benefiting from the CSE’s social and cultural activities is a thing of the past

Cass. Soc., April 3, 2024 n°22-16.812

Today, many social and economic committees (CSE) make the granting of social and cultural activities (ASC) subject to a minimum length of service within the company.

This is indeed what had been provided for, in the facts of the case, by the CSE of Groupama Assurances Mutuelles, which had decided to modify its general regulations relating to the ASC “in order to introduce a six-month waiting period before allowing newly hired employees to benefit from social and cultural activities, and this as of January 1, 2020”.

This regulation expressly stipulated that the right to benefit from the ASC was conditional on the acquisition of a minimum seniority.

However, the CGT union objected to the introduction of this rule, deeming it unlawful.

The Court of First Instance and then the Court of Appeal did not follow the union’s reasoning, considering that the length-of-service condition for entitlement to a ACS is applied in the same way to all employees, thus giving it an objectivity devoid of any discriminatory situation.

For its part, the Social Division of the French Supreme Court rejected the application of this rule: the granting of ASC to employees should not be subject to a minimum length of service condition, as the latter is neither objective nor relevant to the purpose in question.

In this way, the Cour de cassation is notably in line with a ministerial response issued on May 6, 2014 (Rép. Min. n°43931, JOAN Q. p3688) and a number of decisions by Courts of Appeal; having already criticized the existence of a seniority condition.

It also illustrates the growing importance and cross-cutting nature of the value accorded to the principle of equal treatment between employees, with regard to all types of fringe benefits.

The Court of Cassation’s ruling means that CSE are now obliged to consider its impact on their current practices, which probably means that some of them will have to modify their acts setting a seniority condition, and anticipate any related requests concerning the past.

The practical consequences of its application will therefore need to be precisely understood within each company.