Upset at French bank's Brexit secondment plan

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With a no deal Brexit still not entirely ruled out this Friday, but slightly less likely than before, one French bank's employees are grumbling about plans to second them to Paris that they say seem to give the bank too much control.

Credit Agricole CIB is understood to have asked many of its London employees to prepare to move to its Paris office at short notice if a hard Brexit takes place. In this sense, it's doing much the same as - say - JPMorgan, whose employees are on alert for a sudden move to the Paris suburbs. 

However Credit Agricole's London staff are understood to be upset about the new contracts which will initially move them to the French office as seconded employees from London, with minimal employment protection in France.

"The proposal is for a six-month secondment to Paris, with a flexible start date that can be activated at short notice," says one insider. "It's essentially a trial period of employment. The secondment effectively says that you go to Paris for six months. If everyone's happy you stay there and get moved onto a local contract."

The arrangement is creating several causes for concern. Staff who are being asked to agree to the secondments are questioning what happens if the bank decides it doesn't want them after six months, or they decide they're not happy - will they have to move back to the UK at their own expense? There are questions too over pay at the end of the six-month period, and fears that once they're in Paris, people on secondment will be forced to accept whatever's on the table.

"The problem is that people don't feel like they have any choice in this," says one insider. "If their roles move from the UK they will made redundant anyway, and there will be nothing to come back to."

Credit Agricole declined to comment on the claims.  

The contracts illustrate the extent to which Brexit is shifting the balance of power in favour of banks when it comes to employment negotiations. The best that Credit Agricole's CIB secondees can hope for might be that U.S. rivals like Bank of America increase hiring in Paris, thereby bidding-up pay and offering alternative jobs that increase their bargaining power. However, with SocGen announcing 750 French job cuts today and BNP cutting staff too, the Paris market may yet be awash with jobseekers and this could be wishful thinking. 

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