A court has convicted Ikea's French branch for violations of the Sunday rest. It has been fined 120,000 euro in damages which it has to pay 8 employees, but the cost could surge to 30 million euro.
Sunday openings were illegal until 2008
Montmorency's labour court has convicted Ikea France to 120,000 euro in damages destined for 8 employees as the company did not follow the Sunday rest laws. It has only been since 2008 that France has had a rule that allows furniture stores to open on Sunday, but Ikea had been doing it since 2003.
Eight employees, from its Paris Nord 2 store, finally took the company to court and got FO's support, a socialist labour union. The judge has now agreed with the plaintiffs and awarded them 3,500 to 34,000 euro each, "depending on the number of Sundays they had to work".
"Ikea has breached the Sunday rest law up until 2007. Depending on the number of employees involved, the court's decision could cost the Swedish chain more than 30 million euro", the labour union stated in a press release. According to the organization, even more people have now taken Ikea to court with "rulings to be expected in the upcoming weeks".
Only "on a voluntary basis"
Ikea has always said the "Sunday work was only on a voluntary basis" and that there was an internal agreement about Sunday openings. "Ikea employees who voluntarily worked on Sunday, were paid an additional 125 % for each hour, even more than the 100 % that the labour laws prescribe."
The Sunday rest laws became a hot topic in France at the end of 2013, beginning of 2014 when French DIY stores complained that they were not allowed to open on Sunday, while furniture stores and garden centers were. Eventually, a transitional measure allowed Sunday openings while all-encompassing legislation will come into effect on 1 July 2015.