According to French labor laws, companies can only require employees to work between the hours of 9PM and 6AM if they prove that doing so is necessary to maintain economic activity or to provide social services. The Apple Stores in question — including the outlet at l’Opéra in Paris — all officially close their doors at 9PM, but employees are often required to stay as late as 11PM in order to shut down and clean the facilities.
Apple Store employees do often stay after hours in order to make product changes, replenish stock and generally do the tasks that can’t really be done when the store is full of customers. Despite Apple’s statement that this type of thing was “uncommon”, it isn’t usually the case.
However, if I was an employee there I wouldn’t be breaking out the champagne just yet. Should the ruling stand and Apple is not allowed to have staff work from 9PM to 6AM then you can all but guarantee Apple will have employees start from 6AM – still within the letter of the law.
I sympathise with the employees about the late finishes, I used to have to work until 11PM/Midnight regularly, but I’d rather work a couple of hours later in the evening than have to get up at 4AM.
Even if this is seen as a victory for the French employees, I fail to see who the winners are here.