The status of Junior-Enterprises under threat

At the beginning of August 2022, the company DELSOL Avocats announced that it would support the National Confederation of Junior-Enterprises, which brings together nearly 200 Junior-Enterprises, to secure their legal status, which is currently under threat. On Tuesday, September 6, the entire Junior-Enterprise Movement came together to clarify the situation and define the next steps needed to protect the brand.

Junior-Enterprises, student associations like no other

A Junior company is a student association where students can professionalise. The Junior-Enterprise is fully managed by student administrators who form the link between their customers and student Interveners who carry out the assignments for the customers. Junior-Enterprises make it possible to put into practice the theoretical lessons of schools or universities, so that students improve their skills and benefit from better professional integration. Junior-Enterprises are therefore non-profit associations with an economic vocation.

In France, Junior-Enterprises are overseen by the National Confederation of Junior-Enterprises (CNJE), an association under the law of July 1, 1901 that unites some 200 Junior-Enterprises in the country. With more than 25,000 students, it is the leading movement of student associations in France.

The question about the status of Junior-Enterprises

The Junior-Enterprise model is now being questioned. Junior-Enterprises are not subject to any regulatory text, except Bérégovoy’s 1984 letter describing their deviating tax status and the 1988 letter and ministerial decree establishing their deviating social status. However, these texts are not laws and can therefore be questioned. The status of the students who carry out the missions in Junior-Enterprise is also not legally defined and is therefore threatened today.

ACOSS (Central Agency of Social Security Organizations) and URSSAF (Associations for the Collection of Social Security Contributions and Child Benefits), relying on a judgment of the Court of Cassation of 15 June 1988, consider that there is a subordination relationship between the Junior Companies and the students who carry out the assignments for the clients. This subordination relationship contributes to the vagueness of the situation as it is also not a concept defined by law, but by case law and thus dependent on the analysis of the facts according to the judge. This interpretation would mean that the performance of the students involved in Junior-Enterprise can be regarded as linked to an employment contract. If this were the case, the Junior-Enterprises would therefore be subject to other social security contributions that they do not pay today due to their deviating status. Social administrations thus question the derogatory status of Junior-Enterprises.

Specifically, Junior-Enterprises would run the risk of being reclassified as employers, meaning they would have to pay common law contributions and social security contributions. The consequences would be nothing but the end of the Junior-Enterprise model as it exists today and most of them would have no choice but to dissolve or financial liquidation.

Also read: Emilie Paris looks back on her presidency at the CNJE

DELSOL Advocaten helps the CNJE

The company DELSOL Avocats announced last August to support and advise the CNJE in this situation to protect the Junior-Enterprise brand and its status. According to the company DELSOL Avocats, the requalification of Junior-Enterprises as an employer would be the opposite of the educational vocation of the missions carried out by students in Junior-Enterprises. It would also entail other obligations that would create problems in the current operation of Junior-Enterprises, such as the withholding tax that only relates to salaries. However, the speakers in Junior-Enterprise receive fees, which have never been questioned. This requalification would also limit the freedom of organization and management of their time available to the speakers during their missions.

Contributions such as those for accidents at work should be paid, but they only make sense for an employer who insures his employee. The disciplinary power that exists in a traditional company would be legitimate, while today it is not possible to invoke it in Junior-Enterprise.

For example, according to the office, the conditions to recognize the students as subordinate employees of the Junior-Enterprise or to enter into an employment relationship are not met.

Go through the law to clarify the status of Junior-Enterprises

The CNJE, with the help of the DELSOL Avocats company, contacted ACOSS and UNEDIC (National Interprofessional Trade Union for Employment in Industry and Trade) to inform them of these difficulties, which have not been without success so far. It is therefore urgent today to establish the status of Junior-Enterprises in a legal text and to define the contributions that affect them.

The CNJE has therefore decided, with the support of the law firm, to approach the ministers in charge of the file and the parliamentarians with a view to discussing in Parliament the bill on the financing of social security (PLFSS) that is planned for 2023. The aim is to enact into law the ministerial letters and decrees on which the deviating regulation for Junior-Enterprises is based by giving a definition in a text that must arise from the social security code.

Maître Camille Rousset, partner, co-head of the “Labour Law – Social Protection” department and mediator at DELSOL Advocaten, has been tasked with drafting an amendment to be presented to ministers and parliamentarians at the end of 2022.

The commitment of Junior-Enterprises

The entire Junior-Enterprises movement in France met on Tuesday, September 6, on the occasion of an Extraordinary General Assembly of Presidents to discuss the emergency strategy put in place by the CNJE, together with the DELSOL Lawyers cabinet and its Strategic Guidance Committee.

For each of the structures, the following steps have been determined that are necessary to protect the Junior-Entreprise brand. According to Yanis GannounicPresident of the CNJE, and Marie Trüb, Vice-President, mainly concerns:

– solve the problem and protect the Junior-Enterprises;

– simplification of the Junior-Enterprise model;

– introducing the Junior-Enterprise concept to customers.

As Yanis announced when he took office last July: The first project (of his mandate) is to clarify the status of Junior-Enterprises. It seems that all the Junior Entrepreneurs of France are working with him to clarify their situation and ensure the sustainability of this movement, which has been going on for 55 years.

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