The French parliament adopted a major economic reform that effectively ends the country's mandatory 35-hour workweek, in a Senate vote late on Wednesday.
The bill was supported by the upper house’s right-wing majority — French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s UMP party — but opposed by the opposition Socialists.
Details of how many senators were present and how many backed the law were not available from the parliament but were to be published later.
Senators also adopted other key reforms that change rules on strikes, tighten criteria for unemployment payments and aim at bringing down the cost of living by boosting competition.
The measures were approved by the National Assembly lower house earlier this month and now become law with the backing of the Senate.
The reform most contested by the Socialists and by trade unions is the move to let companies ditch the 35-hour workweek, a measure brought in by a Socialist government 10 years ago and denounced by conservatives as a drag on France’s competitivity.
The new law maintains the workweek at 35 hours, but gives businesses the right to negotiate directly with employees to decide their working hours.
The 35-hour week was aimed at cutting unemployment, and the French statistics institute INSEE said it created 350,000 new jobs between 1998 and 2002, but at the cost of billions of dollars in state aid to companies.