BDES and labor code: legal framework and market context

THE BDES (economic and social database) has been a legal requirement since 2013. Employers must produce this economic database for management, human resources, the finance department and all CSE members and union delegates in all companies with over 50 employees. It is an essential tool for social dialogue.

Purpose and legal obligation of the BDES

Since 2013, numerous legislative developments have forced employers to produce more information. The last decisive step forward took place in 2018 with the obligation to integrate the content of the social report. This makes it necessary to provide more precise information in terms of indicators. Previously, these were at the free choice of the employer, who could choose the various workforce indicators to supply the themes relating to social investment.

It gathers information on the company's major strategic orientations (economic and social). The database includes mandatory information that varies according to the size of the company's workforce.

The BDES is used to prepare the recurrent consultations of the social and economic committee. Seeing the consequences for business activity, employment, the development of professions and skills, as well as the organization of work, is of significant importance to the social partners...

The first was that concerning the company's strategy. Since then, there has been an extension to other consultations: consultation on the economic and financial situation of the company and that on the company's social policy, working and employment conditions. There are 3 important annual consultations so the BDES serves as a support for all these consultations.

It is a legal obligation and the employer must make this BDES available to the CSE or the staff representatives/delegates. Its content may vary depending on whether or not the workforce is less than 300 employees. You should know that these obligations are more restrictive for those with more than 300 employees since there are more indicators.

Companies concerned and company agreements

The companies concerned by this obligation are those that employ more than 50 employees (which are therefore required to set up a CSE). The workforce is calculated at the overall level of the company (important precision, especially for companies with multiple establishments).

The possibility offered by the texts is to adjust the content of the BDES through a company agreement. Indeed, for 2 years the public authorities and the government have been encouraging negotiations with staff representatives to adapt the content of the BDES. There is, however, an obligation to provide information on certain themes and more freedom to adapt the indicators since there is no obligation to adhere to the provisions of the labor code.

The content of the BDES must relate to the current year and the 2 previous years (e.g. for 2020, you must feed the BDES with data for 2020, 2019 and 2018). You must also include the outlook for each theme for the next 3 years (2021 to 2023) in order to indicate what the company's outlook is.

Access and confidentiality of the database

First of all, the employer designs, implements and updates the BDES. It also sets the conditions for consultation, use and updating. Ideally, this BDES should be updated once a year, but the official texts do not specify anything formally. Nevertheless, we advise you to do it quarterly (at least for companies with more than 300 employees, who are supposed to consult the social partners every quarter).

The implementation of the BDES can take several forms: paper workbook, excel file, IT support via electronic document management (EDM), business intelligence (BI) tool, payroll extension, etc.

Access to the database is given only to social partners and trade union representatives. Authorization is also mandatory.

Finally, the obligation of discretion is imposed on users of the BDES: the database must remain confidential for the rest of the employees who cannot access it.

Content and operating rules

The content and operating rules are defined in the texts. The architecture and major themes of the BDES are also imposed. These are those that deal with social issues:

  • Social, material and immaterial investment: relate to the workforce: CDI / CDD / Contracts / Assisted contracts, etc.
  • Indicators relating to professional equality between women and men (includes the index that has been mandatory since January 2019): diagnosis and analysis of the comparative situation of women and men for each of the company's professional categories in terms of hiring, training, professional promotion, qualifications, classification, working conditions, health and safety at work, effective remuneration and the balance between professional activity and personal and family life, analysis of wage and career progression gaps based on age, qualification and seniority, changes in the respective promotion rates of women and men by job within the company, share of women and men on the Board of Directors, etc.
  • Financial-type indicators: Equity, debt
  • Elements of compensation for employees and managers
  • Social and cultural activities
  • Financial flows to the company
  • Partnerships
  • Commercial and financial transfers between entities of the same group

Within the framework of a collective agreement with the social partners, it is possible to exclude the last 2 themes. Within each theme, the indicators that are listed in the labor code can be modified.

In the absence of a single database, the employer is guilty of obstruction, punishable by a €7,500 fine.

Context of the implementation of the BDES

A few market elements stand out regarding the implementation of the BDES:

  • The COVID impact: Tension and apprehension of IRPs generate an urgent need to update BDES data for better visibility of the situation of the structure
  • Work overload related to the context: the services in charge of producing the BDES have a lot of work due to COVID and traditional activity and often have a lack of time, resources and tools to be able to produce the BDES
  • Practice of structures: a large number of companies have not necessarily integrated the latest regulatory changes of 2018 and in particular all the items that should be contained in the BDES. The growing pressure on certain structures at IRP level on the information given by the company makes it essential to have a well-informed BDES in order to avoid social tensions.

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