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Easyjet fined for breaking work law

Budget airline considers appeal against €1.65m fine for giving UK work contracts to staff based at Orly airport

EASYJET has been fined €1.65m for employing French staff on British contracts for almost four years.

The budget airline was found by a court in the Paris suburb of Créteil to have bypassed French employment law in giving the UK contracts to 170 cabin crew and pilots based at Orly airport between 2003 and 2006.

It has been ordered to pay €1.4m to the Pôle Emploi job agency, a €150,000 fine to the treasury and a further €100,000 split between two unions and a pilot who registered as a claimant in the case.

Social contributions body Urssaf - which uncovered the contract dodge during a spot check at the airport in late 2006 - had its request for €8m in damages thrown out.

Pilots' union Unac said it was "very satisfied" with the ruling, which sets a precedent for foreign low-cost airlines operating in France.

The union is also taking legal action against Ryanair, which it claims is engaged in a similar practice with staff at its base in Marseille.

Easyjet argues that it never knowingly broke any law and is considering an appeal.

Communications director Oliver Aust told France Info: "We acted on the advice given to us at the time by the French and British authorities.

"At that point there was no French or EU law that fitted a company structured like ours. Easyjet has always sought to be a responsible employer."

A government decree was passed in November 2006 requiring foreign airlines with staff based in France to comply with French employment law.

Easyjet and Ryanair unsuccessfully tried to overturn this in 2007, arguing that the rule change hampered their operations and was anti-competitive.

Easyjet is France's third biggest airline behind Air France and Ryanair. Today it employs 500 pilots and cabin crew based at Paris and Lyon, all under French contracts.

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