1) Some very rough explanations on the so called lifetime contract in france:
Employers can go to an american like system, with an american like salary, but they usually chose to promise a stable work that the employee will accept for a lower wage. If they fail to provide the promised stability, they have to pay compensation, that sounds fair to me, they had choice.
Clearly hiring a person with the wrong type of contract is misleading employees and peoples go to court for this.
Because maybe i ll sell my house, leave my friends and move my familly for a permanent position. But for a temporary job i'd use the extra money to rent an hotel room.
If you happen to have hired everyone under a permanent contract and you liquidate your company as to not pay the notice time to anyone, you'll get sued.
Contractor agency and independent workers :
Pay a premium price for at will employment (often twice as much, but in reality any price is acceptable, so it s about the same that the US system)
Temporary positions :
There's a number of different contracts to do it, but in the end, _by_the_law_ you have to pay a 20-30% bonus.
Usually you'll get month by month, or 3 month by 3 months contracts for up to 18 months
Only advantage the employe will get is a reduced price for midday canteen
You basically give the 20-30% bonus because the employee can not have a life, get a credit for a house, and will have a number of unemployment periods during which he'll need to live throught.
I think the warning has to be given up to 1 week before.
Permanent position :
The employee expect a lower wage but a "very long" position, 2-10 years would seems a right number by today economics
Being able to buy a house and maybe some advantages like cheaper canteen, a parking slots, subvention for holidays and whatever.
In the first 1-6 months you can fire your employee anytime without any reason (try it time). The warning has to be given 24h to 7days in advance.
After that if you want to fire someone, you have to notice him for as long as the "try it time" was (but i think it's maxed to 3 months ). And pay him 1/3 (before 10years)-1/2(after 10years ) of a month of salary per year he worked.
The notice time doesn't have to be done in the company but has to be paid.
2) Some very rough explanations on the french court system
When you go to court (prud hommes) with an employer, the tribunal will be made of half employees and half bosses from other companies. So clearly if he did nothing bad he had his chances there and could even have made an appeal and go to a higher court anyway.
The express judgement, express payment thing he was apparently subject to a "réferé". Is something different and can be used before the "prud hommes", because prud hommes is a one year process. With it, IF the judge accept the procedure, because he considers the issue to be a super simple case (you break a car in front of the police office and a camera recorded you), you'll get a temporary decision in 24h/1month. It is fast, it may allow you to keep your salary or avoid any evidence to be destroyed .Temporary, because anyone can always go to the prud'homme and open the case there (can't be rejected like an appeal).