Hire in France

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Last updated at June 14, 2022

Currency

Euro (EUR)

Capital

Paris

Time Zone

GMT+1

Key Country Facts

Introduction

France, officially the French Republic (République Française), is a democratic republic. With a total population of 67 million it is Europe’s most important agricultural producer and one of the world’s leading industrial powers. Its capital in Paris is the country’s largest city and main cultural and commercial centre.

Area

Bounded by the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, the Alps and the Pyrenees, France has long provided a geographic, economic, and linguistic bridge joining northern and southern Europe. It borders Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany to the northeast, Switzerland, Monaco, and Italy to the east, and Andorra and Spain to the south.

Climate

France has a mostly temperate climate with some regional differences. It generally enjoys cool winters and mild summers except in Provence, Languedoc along the Mediterranean coast where mild winters and hot summers are normal.

Culture

France is a nation with thousands of years of history and a highly rich culture. It is synonymous with fundamental values to which the French are very attached; Liberty, Equality, Fraternity. They correspond to the principles that inform the laws which all individuals living in or visiting France must abide by.

Religion

France is a secular nation that guarantees religious freedom and freedom of conscience within the limits of the law. The state is independent of any religion. Major practised religions include; Christianity (mainly Catholic) 47%, Islam 5%, Judaism 1%, Buddhism 1%. People with other religions total 5% and 40% declare as unaffiliated.

Official Language

French, is the only official language according to the French Constitution. Minority regional languages are also spoken as secondary languages; such as German dialects (Alsatian), Celtic languages (Breton) and other Gallo-Romance languages.

France HR at a Glance

Employment Law

The French Labour Code (Code du Travail) provides a comprehensive framework for both individual and collective relationships between employers and employees. The Labour Code contains almost all statutory provisions related to individual and collective employment matters and is continuously added to and amended as new laws, regulations and decrees are adopted. Case law interprets the Labour Code.

Individual employment contracts cover only those points that are not already dealt with in the Labour Code or in the relevant collective bargaining agreement.

Collective bargaining agreements (conventions collectives) may be negotiated between employers and labour unions covering a company or group of companies (accords d’entreprise), or between employers’ associations and labour unions covering an industry as a whole; in the latter case, the government may decide that the collective agreement covers even those employers who are not members of the employers’ association and is therefore mandatory throughout the industry. Over 95 per cent of employees in France are covered by collective bargaining agreements (even in non-unionised industries), so the rules in the Labour Code are supplemented by more generous rules in areas such as paid leave, maternity leave, medical cover and even working time. Employee representatives play a very important role: Depending on the size of a company, it may be required to have either employee delegates (délégués du personnel) or a works council (comité d’entreprise) and a health and safety committee (comité d’hygiène, de sécurité et des conditions de travail).

The Social Security Code (Code de la Sécurité Sociale) deals with matters such as benefits for employees on sickness, maternity or paternity leave. The Penal Code (Code pénal) is relevant in some areas, such as non-discrimination, and health and safety.

Broadly speaking, where there is any disparity or conflict between the terms of the Labour Code, collective agreements and the employment contract, the provisions that are most advantageous to the employee apply. The terms of company-level collective agreements take precedence over those of industry-level collective agreements, except in a small number of fields such as minimum pay rates. In a number of important areas, such as many aspects of working time and leave, the Labour Code lays down a core set of rules and leaves many other issues almost entirely to collective bargaining (primarily at company level) with back-up rules applying only in the absence of a collective agreement.

Employment Contract

By default, employment contracts under French law are for an open-ended period. Although French law does not require that the open-ended employment contract is in writing (unless the employee requires so) we strongly recommend a compliant contract in writing. In any event, the employer must provide some basic information related to the employment relationship by writing (e.g. name of the employer, date of hiring, job title, status, remuneration, working time, etc.), the list of which is established by law.

In strictly limited cases (e.g. replacement of an absent employee, exceptional increase of activity, etc.), employment contracts may be for a fixed period. The fixed-term contracts must be written and include specific details (e.g. reason for using a fixed-term contract), failing which the contract would be recognized as an open-ended employment contract. When written, the employment contract must be in French and its main terms (e.g. related to remuneration, working time, etc.) cannot, in principle, be amended without the employee’s express consent.

Contract Terms

The two principal types of employment contract are the fixed-term contract, in French the “contrat de travail à durée déterminée” or CDD, and the Permanent contract “contrat de travail à durée indéterminée” or CDI. The majority of employees in France prefer a CDI contract over a CDD when they have the option. Moreover, the CDI format is generally viewed as the standard, or normal, form of employment contract.

The employer is therefore obliged to use this type of contract other than in circumstances where they can justify the recourse to another contract form, most notably the CDD or another form of temporary contract. A CDI may be a full-time or part-time contract.

The contents and the specific clauses which figure in the CDI are largely at the discretion of the employer and the employee. The contract must also incorporate the minimum rights of an employee as outlined in the Labour Code.

Employment under a CDI contract cannot come to an end without the express wishes of one party (the employer or the employee), or through the mutual agreement of the two parties.

Fixed Term Contracts

A fixed-term employment contract (contrat à durée déterminée (CDD)) cannot be used with the purpose or effect of filling on a long-term basis a position that relates to the company’s “normal and permanent” activity. A CDD may be used only for the performance of a precise and temporary task, and specifically in the following principal cases:

1. Substitution of an employee who is absent (e.g. sick leave) or whose employment contract has been suspended or, in some circumstances, an employee who has left employment until a replacement employee starts work,

2. To replace the hours of a full-time employee who is temporarily working part time,

3. Temporary increase in company’s business,

4. Seasonal jobs or jobs for which a fixed-term contract is usually used,

5. Substitution of company manager,

6. Recruitment under the applicable employment policy (professional training and apprenticeship contracts, seniors’ contract and so on),

7. Defined-objective fixed-term contract for engineers and executives.

8. To carry out jobs for which indefinite-term contracts are not customarily used because of the nature of the activity (e.g. certain jobs in hotels and catering, education and sport).

The fixed-term contract must be elaborated in writing, otherwise it is deemed to be a permanent contract. Non-signature by the employee or the employer is considered as a lack of written agreement. It must be given to the employee within 2 days of being hired. It must include certain compulsory details such as reason for contract, contract end date, post held, length of trial period. The fixed-term contract must include a detailed description of the reasons for its use, otherwise it might re-classed as a permanent contract. The employer is also liable in this case for a fine of €3,750.

During his/her contract, an employee under a fixed-term contract has the same rights as the other employees of the company in terms of working hours, salary, sickness cover, election of employee representatives, employment benefits and so on.

Duration of the fixed-term contract: The fixed-term contract can be signed

1. date to date: in this case, it has a maximum duration of 18 months, including renewal, and can only be renewed twice,

2. with no precise term: in this case, the term of the contract will be linked to the achievement of the object of the contract. This type of fixed-term contract must stipulate a minimum duration.

3. The fixed-term contract ends automatically at the end of the term mentioned in the contract. At the end of the contract, the employee receives:

  • An indemnity amounting to 10% of the total gross remuneration paid during the contract at the end of the term of their contract and provided that no indefinite-term contract of employment is agreed at the end of it.
  • A compensatory allowance of paid leave, irrespective of the length of the contract.
  • If the contract continues after the set term, it becomes a permanent contract.

4. Termination of fixed-term contract: The fixed-term contract cannot be terminated before its term except in the event of agreement between the parties, serious misconduct or force majeure or if the employee can provide proof that he or she was hired under a permanent contract.

5. Aside from these cases, early termination of the contract results in the following:

  • The employer is required to pay damages to the employee which shall be at least equal to the amounts of remuneration that the employee would have received until the end of the contract,
  • The employee may be ordered to pay damages to the employer for the loss sustained by the company.

6. Successive fixed-term contracts: A fixed-term contract must not be used to fill a post related to the company’s normal, ongoing business. A succession of fixed-term contracts can only be entered into for the same job if there is a gap between the contracts, as indicated below (except in exceptional cases):

  • A third of the elapsed contract term for contracts that have a duration of more than 14 days,
  • Half of the elapsed contract term for contracts that have a duration of less than 14 days.

Special arrangements may be stipulated by an extended collective agreement.

Notice of Hiring - Declaration of employment and relation affiliations

Any hiring of an employee requires that the employer declares him/her to the local competent Social Security Authorities office (named in short ‘URSSAF’ – social security contribution collection agency), within the 8-day period preceding the starting of the employee’s work, by the way of a declaration of employment (Déclaration préalable à l’embauche or DPAE). URSSAF is the authority which receives the social security mandatory contributions, paid by the employer and the employee, aiming at covering the following risks: illness, maternity, invalidity, unemployment, old age (i.e. retirement).

The DPAE also enables the registration/affiliation with occupational medical services (‘Service medical du travail’) and the unemployment fund (‘Pôle emploi’) and organisation of the first mandatory medical examination.

The employer is also required to affiliate the employee to the mandatory complementary retirement funds, determined in consideration of the employee’s status (i.e. non-executive: ‘non-cadre’ or executive: ‘cadre’) and welfare plans.

Failure to complete the DPAE is subject to a penalty of 300 times the hourly rate of the guaranteed minimum (€1,158 as of May 2022). A penalty for illegal work may also be applied.

Employment Medical Examination - "Information and prevention visits"

The employer must arrange for new recruits to make an “information and prevention visit” (visite d’information et de prevention (VIP)) to the employer’s occupational physician or other occupational health professional. The VIP is a medical interview aimed at finding out about the employee’s health, providing information on risks and prevention, and assessing whether a more extensive medical examination is required.

It is important to make sure an appointment with the occupational health centre can be made for the new employee within the set time frames:

  • An information and prevention visit for employees not exposed to special risks. It must be carried out within 3 months from the effective start of job, though it may be waived in certain cases.
  • A special pre-recruitment medical examination for employees assigned to a position in an environment where they may be exposed to special risks.

Probation Period

The Labour Code permits probationary periods to enable the employer to evaluate the employee’s competence and the employee to assess whether the job suits them. Indefinite-term employment contracts may provide for a maximum probationary period of:

  • two months for blue-collar and white-collar employees,
  • three months for supervisors and technical employees,
  • four months for managers and professional staff.

These probationary periods may be extended once, up to a maximum of double the original duration, if an applicable industry-wide collective agreement permits this. The fact that there will be a probationary period must be stated in the employment contract or letter of engagement, as must the length of the period and, where relevant, the possibility that the period may be extended.

If the employer terminates an employee’s contract during a probationary period, it must give notice of:

  • 24 hours during the first seven days of the probationary period,
  • 48 hours during the rest of the first month,
  • two weeks during the second and third months,
  • one month after the third month of the probationary period until its end.

If the employee terminates the employment during the first seven days of a probationary period, they must give 24 hours’ notice. Thereafter, during the rest of the probationary period, the employee must give 48 hours’ notice.

Fixed-term employment contracts may provide for a probationary period, subject to special rules. The statutory maximum duration is 1 day per week up to a limit of 2 weeks for a fixed-term contract of 6 months or less. For a fixed-term contract of more than 6 months it is 1 month maximum. If the employer or the employee terminates the contract during the trial period, a notice period must be respected. When the contract does not have a precise term, the trial period is calculated based on the minimum duration of the contract.

Working hours

For full-time employees, the Labour Code sets normal working time at 35 hours per week. An applicable collective agreement may provide for different normal weekly hours. Any hours worked beyond statutory (or collectively agreed) normal weekly hours are generally considered overtime. An employee who works less than normal hours is deemed to work part time.

An employee must not, as a general rule, work for more than 10 hours a day, overtime included. However, a collective agreement (at company or establishment level or, failing this, at industry level) may increase maximum daily working time to as much as 12 hours for reasons related to the company’s organisation or to meet increased activity. The 10-hour day may also be exceeded in emergencies or if authorised by the Labour Inspectorate in cases such as a temporary surge in workload.

An employee must not, as a general rule, work for more than 48 hours in any week (overtime included) or more than 44 hours on average over a 12-week period. The Labour Inspectorate may authorise a working week of up to 60 hours in exceptional circumstances. Furthermore, a collective agreement (at company or establishment level or, failing this, at industry level) may provide for employees to work up to 46 hours on average over a 12-week period (in the absence of an agreement, the Labour Inspectorate may authorise this arrangement).

The above rules apply to adult employees. The Labour Code’s rules on normal and maximum working hours, overtime hours, “All-in” working time agreements, night work, rest breaks and rest periods do not apply to managing executives (the most senior managers in a company).

Overtime

In principle, any hours worked by full-time employees beyond 35 hours per week are considered overtime, and generally entitle the employee to a pay supplement. If the pay supplement is stipulated by a collective agreement (at company or establishment level or, failing this, at industry level), it must be at least 10% on top of the employee’s normal rate. In the absence of a collective agreement, the Labour Code sets the supplement at 25% for the first eight hours of overtime in a week, and 50% for any subsequent hours. If a collective agreement (at company or establishment level or, failing this, at industry level) so provides, employees may be compensated for overtime with time off rather than a pay supplement. The time off must be equivalent to the overtime hours, plus the pay supplement that would otherwise have applied (e.g. if the employee would normally receive a 25% pay supplement for an hour’s overtime, they must be granted 1 hour 15 minutes of time off).

Employees have an individual overtime quota, set at 220 hours a year unless a collective agreement (at company or establishment level or, failing this, at industry level) provides for a different quota. The employer can require an employee to work overtime up to the annual quota, and the employee cannot refuse a reasonable request. Any overtime for which an employee has been compensated in time off do not count towards the annual quota.

The rules on compensation for overtime set out above apply only to overtime hours up to the annual quota. If an employee works overtime beyond the annual quota, the compensation must be in time off, at a rate of 100% in companies with 20 or more employees and 50% in smaller companies (a collective agreement may provide for higher rates).

In addition, for certain categories of employees (i.e. mainly executives), if expressly allowed by the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), if any, or a company agreement, the parties may agree that the employee will work on the basis of a maximum number of days per year (218 or less). The advantage of this system is that employees may work ‘long days’ without generating overtime. However, to balance such long days and as a result of the maximum number of working days per year, the employees are granted additional rest days (often referred to as ‘RTT’ days. RTT means “Reduction du temps de travail” i.e. “reduction of working time”). Whatever the working time system, the employer and the employees should comply with the working hours limitations, i.e. 10 hours per day, 48 hours per week and 44 hours in average over a 12-week period (subject to more restrictive limitations provided in any CBA).

Bonus

It is common practice to reward employees through bonuses. Bonus payments can be distinguished between:

1. Discretionary bonuses- Bonuses are discretionary when the employer is completely free to choose whether or not to award them. If so, they are not considered an integral part of the remuneration package. However, the French Supreme Court ruled that:

  • discretionary bonuses must be justified on objective and appropriate grounds;
  • the employee must be informed of these grounds before entering into the employment contract.

It is therefore debatable whether discretionary bonuses can still be granted.

2. Contractual bonuses. If a bonus is provided for in the employment contract, it is a contractual element of the remuneration package and can only be modified with the employee’s consent. The French Supreme Court ruled that if the bonus is contractual:

  • its variation must be based on objective criteria, which are independent from the employer’s wishes;
  • the employee must not share the employer’s risk;
  • the employee’s salary must not be less than either: the statutory minimum wage; or the minimum salary set by a relevant Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

Some CBAs provide for bonuses, which are subject to the same rules as contractual bonuses.

Bonuses can also be paid as a result of company practice. If this practice is regular, fixed and applies to a set group of employees, the bonus forms part of the remuneration package that the employer must pay. An employer can end such a bonus by following a procedure which involves:

  • Individually informing the employees.
  • Informing the staff representatives.
  • Observing a reasonable notice period (usually, at least three months).

Suspension of contract

The employment contract is considered to be suspended when the employee is absent from work for various reasons, notably because of:

  • taking maternity, paternity, parental or adoption leave, and various other types of leave for family and other reasons,
  • taking strike action,
  • sickness or accident,
  • suspension by the employer (e.g. for disciplinary reasons).

Suspension of the employment contract means that, on a temporary basis, the employee is not required to work, and the employer is not required to pay the employee, but the contract is not terminated. However, in the case of sick leave, the employer is obliged to pay the employee, to the extent required by the Labour Code or an applicable collective agreement. Further, in cases such as maternity, paternity and parental leave, employees are generally entitled to receive social security benefits, sometimes topped up by the employer.

While the contract is suspended, the employee must continue to respect the contractual obligation of loyalty to the employer (and cannot, for example, work for another employer). When the period of suspension ends, the employee must return to their previous job, or a similar one corresponding to their skills, with at least the same remuneration as before the suspension.

Notice Period

The Labour Code provides for a minimum notice period when the employer terminates the indefinite-term employment contract of an employee with at least six months’ service (after the end of any probationary period. The minimum notice period stands at one month, rising to two months after two years’ service. During the first six months of service, the notice period is that set by an applicable collective agreement, employment contracts or practice in the company or occupation concerned.

If the employment relationship is terminated at the request of the employee, the notice period depends on the employee’s seniority in the company and professional status. Details are determined by sectoral collective agreements, but the notice period is generally between one and three months. Shortened periods may be negotiated between the parties and some collective agreements release employees from any notice period if they have found new employment.

The employer may decide to dispense with all or part of the notice period and pay the employee in lieu of the unworked period. At the employee’s request, the employer may agree to dispense with all or part of the notice period, in which case the contract ends on a date agreed by the parties and the employer does not need to make a payment in lieu.

Termination

Termination by the employer

Employers may dismiss an employee with an indefinite-term employment contract for either

1. Personal reasons or

2. Economic reasons.

Different rules and procedures apply to the two types of dismissal. The general rules on dismissal do not apply during a probationary period.

Employee representatives, such as trade union delegates and representatives on social and economic committees, receive special protection from dismissal.

1. Personal reasons

A dismissal for personal reasons may relate to matters such as the employee’s conduct, incapacity, lack of competence or aptitude, or refusal to accept a modification of the employment contract. An employer must have a “real and serious” cause to dismiss an employee with an indefinite-term employment contract for personal reasons — that is, a cause that is based on facts, precise, verifiable and important enough to justify terminating the contract. The Labour Code provides that certain reasons can never be considered a real and serious cause for dismissal. These include unlawful discrimination, the employee’s state of health or disability (except where the employee is certified as incapable for work), pregnancy or maternity, political opinions, or trade union membership or activities, or the employee having:

undergone, or refused to undergo, sexual or psychological harassment, or having witnessed or reported such harassment

  • engaged in lawful “whistleblowing”
  • participated in a lawful strike
  • exercised a legal right.

Matters relating to an employee’s private life are not a real and serious cause for dismissal unless they objectively cause disruption for the employer or involve a breach of the employee’s duty of loyalty.

With regard to dismissal related to the employee’s conduct, there is a distinction between “simple misconduct” (faute simple), “serious misconduct” (faute grave) and “gross misconduct” (faute lourde). Simple misconduct, such as where the employee has made a mistake or been negligent at work, can constitute a real and serious cause for dismissal with notice. Serious and gross misconduct warrant dismissal without notice.

Misconduct is considered serious if it breaches the employee’s contractual obligations, makes further employment impossible and is directly attributable to the employee. While assessing the severity of misconduct depends on the circumstances of the case, common examples of serious misconduct include harassment, violence or threats at work, unjustified absences, indiscipline, insubordination, theft from the employer and drunkenness at work.

Misconduct is considered gross only if the employer can prove that it was committed with the intention of damaging the employer. Examples include stopping non-strikers from working or using violence during a strike, or disloyal competition with the employer.

Before an employer decides to dismiss an employee for personal reasons, it must summon the employee to a “pre-dismissal interview”. At the interview, the employer must explain its reasons for considering dismissal and ask the employee for explanations. The employee may be accompanied by another company employee of their choice or, if there are no employee representatives in the company, by an external “employee advisor”. No less than two working days after the interview (and not more than one month after the meeting, in the case of disciplinary dismissal), the employer may send the employee a dismissal letter, announcing and giving the reasons for the dismissal. Within 15 days after receipt, employees are entitled to require the employer to provide further precise details of the reasons for dismissal.

Dismissal on grounds of misconduct cannot occur unless the proper disciplinary procedure has been observed. No notice is required in the case of dismissal for serious or gross misconduct and the contract ends immediately.

Dismissal related to an employee’s incapacity to work is subject to special rules. An employer cannot simply dismiss an employee because of their state of health. Dismissal on health grounds is possible only if the employee’s illness or injury makes them incapable of work or disrupts the operation of the company and requires the recruitment of a permanent replacement. In the case of incapacity, the employer must follow a procedure involving attempts to find suitable alternative work and input from the occupational physician.

2. Economic reasons

A dismissal for economic reasons is one resulting from the elimination or transformation of the employee’s job for a real and serious cause, or the employee’s refusal to accept a related modification of the employment contract. A real and serious cause includes:

  • economic difficulties — the Labour Code sets out detailed criteria for what constitutes such difficulties
  • technological change
  • a reorganization of the company that is necessary to keep it competitive
  • the company ceasing activity.

Before dismissing any employee for economic reasons, the employer must make various efforts to train and adapt the employee and redeploy them to another post. The employer must follow an order of selection for dismissal, based on specific criteria, including family responsibilities; length of service; problems in finding a new job (e.g. because of age of disability); and occupational qualities and aptitudes.

The procedures to be followed, and the obligations on employers, depend on whether the employer is planning:

a. an individual dismissal on economic grounds, or

b. two or more such dismissals (Collective Economic Dismissals).

a. Individual dismissals

Individual dismissals for economic reasons are subject to essentially the same procedure as they apply to dismissals for personal reasons, involving an interview, followed by a dismissal letter to the employee. In the case of economic dismissals, the letter cannot be sent until at least seven working days after the interview (15 days in the case of managers and professional staff). In companies with fewer than 1000 employees, the employer must, during the procedure, offer the employee a “professional security contract” (contrat de sécurisation professionnelle (CSP)) with the Pôle emploi public employment service — this is a scheme aimed at getting employees who have lost their jobs back into work.

The employer must inform the Directe regional employment authorities about individual dismissals for economic reasons.

Collective economic dismissals – Fewer than 10 dismissals.

If an employer envisages dismissing two to nine employees for economic reasons over a 30-day period, it must consult the social and economic committee and inform it about matters including:

  • the economic, financial or technical reasons for the proposed dismissals
  • the number of proposed dismissals
  • the categories of employees concerned and the proposed criteria for selection for dismissal
  • the total number of employees at the establishment
  • the planned schedule for the dismissals.

The committee has one month to give its opinion. The employer can then proceed with the dismissals in the same way as for an individual dismissal for economic reasons, including information of the Direccte regional employment authorities.

b. Collective economic dismissals – 10 or more dismissals

In companies with fewer than 50 employees, if the employer envisages dismissing 10 or more employees for economic reasons over a 30-day period, it must consult the social and economic committee, and provide the same information as in the case of two to nine economic dismissals. The consultation must involve at least two meetings of the committee, separated by no more than 14 days. The employer must send the Directe the same information as provided to the social and economic committee and notify it when the final decision is taken on the dismissals. The employer can send dismissal letters to the employees concerned no sooner than 30 days after this notification. There is generally no requirement to hold individual interviews with the employees.

Resignation – Termination by the employee

An employee on an indefinite-term employment contract can resign at any time, without having to give any reason. Special rules apply to resignation during a probationary period.

An employee who resigns must indicate clearly and unequivocally their wish to terminate the employment contract (absence from work alone is not enough for the employer to presume that the employee has resigned). The employee must therefore inform the employer, orally or in writing, of their intention to resign. If an employee resigns because of pressure from the employer, rather than of their own free will, an employment tribunal may deem this to be a dismissal without a real and serious cause.

The employee must generally give notice of resignation. The notice period is not generally stipulated in the Labour Code but left to the employment contract, an applicable collective agreement, or custom and practice. The rules on dispensing with the notice period, and payment in lieu of notice, are the same as they apply in cases of dismissal.

Termination by agreement

An indefinite-term employment contract can be terminated by agreement between the employer and employee, using a procedure (known as rupture conventionnelle) laid down in the Labour Code. This form of termination must be based on the mutual consent of the parties and can be annulled by an employment tribunal if, for example, it is found that the employer exerted undue pressure on the employee to agree to termination. The procedure is as follows:

  • The employer and employee must meet at least once to agree the terms of termination. The employee may be accompanied at this meeting by another company employee or, where there are no employee representatives in the company, by an external “employee advisor”.
  • The employer and employee must sign an agreed-termination agreement, which must state the date of termination and the compensation payment for the employee — such compensation is a compulsory feature of agreed termination and must at least equal the severance payment the employee would receive if dismissed.
  • In the 15 calendar days after the agreement is signed, either the employee or employer is entitled to retract their consent.
  • The employer or employee must submit the signed agreement to the Direccte regional employment authorities for approval or rejection. The agreement is not valid unless approved.

The Labour Code also provides for a mechanism whereby a collective agreement may set the conditions for a number of employees of the same employer voluntarily to terminate their employment by agreement.

Unjustified, irregular or null and void dismissal

Employees that wish to contest the validity of their dismissal may bring a claim in an employment tribunal (conseil de prud‘hommes). The employee may claim that the dismissal was “null and void”, “unjustified” or “irregular”.

A null and void dismissal (licenciement nul) occurs if the dismissal was for one of the reasons specifically prohibited by law as being grounds for dismissal (discrimination, etc.). If the tribunal finds that a dismissal was null and void, the employee is entitled to be reinstated, with back pay, and the employer can oppose this only if reinstatement is impossible. If the employee does not want to be reinstated, or reinstatement is impossible, the tribunal will order the employer to pay compensation of at least six months’ pay, with no upper limit, plus any termination-related payment that the employee may be entitled to.

An unjustified dismissal (licenciement injustifié) occurs if there was no “real and serious” cause for the dismissal. If, on consideration of the facts, the tribunal finds that this was the case, it can order reinstatement only if: neither the employer nor employee object; the employee has at least two years’ service; and the employer has at least 11 employees. Otherwise, the tribunal will award compensation, which varies between a fixed minimum and maximum. The maximum compensation rises in stages from one month’s pay for less than one year’s service to 20 months’ pay after 29 years’ service. The minimum compensation rises in stages: from half a month’s pay after one year of service to three months’ pay after 11 years’ service in firms with 10 or fewer employees; and from one month’s pay after one year of service to three months’ pay after two years’ service in firms with 11 or more employees.

An irregular dismissal (licenciement irrégulier) occurs if the employer did not follow the correct procedure, but this failure was not sufficient to make the dismissal null and void or deprive it of its real and serious cause. In such cases, the tribunal may order the employer to pay compensation of up to one month’s pay and to carry out the relevant procedure properly.

If the employer does not follow the various information, consultation and notification procedures that apply to collective economic dismissals, employees who believe they have suffered damages as a result can seek compensation at an employment tribunal.

Post Termination Restraints

Restrictive covenants are allowed if justified by the company’s business and employee’s role.

Non-competes – Allowed under 5 conditions: It must:

  • Be essential to the protection of the company’s legitimate interests
  • Be limited in time
  • Be limited in space
  • Take into account the specificities of the employee’s duties
  • Provide for a financial compensation (commonly at least 33% of the employee’s compensation for the duration of the non-compete). CBAs may provide for specific terms.

Customer non-solicits – No legal requirement for a financial compensation, although their validity is currently challenged by the courts, which often consider that they in fact constitute a non-compete restriction and as such should be duly compensated.

Employee non-solicits – Generally freely allowed.

Severance Pay

Except in cases of dismissal for serious or gross misconduct, employees on indefinite-term contracts are entitled to a severance payment if they are dismissed, as long as they have at least eight months’ service with the employer. The minimum payment is set by the Labour Code at one-quarter of the employee’s gross monthly remuneration for each of the first 10 years’ service, and one-third of gross monthly remuneration for the 11th and subsequent years.

Termination Payments and Formalities

On termination of employment, employees are entitled to be compensated for any annual holiday entitlement they have earned and not used. In cases where it has dispensed with all or part of the notice period, the employer must make a payment in lieu of termination.

When employment ends — whatever the reason for termination and whatever type of employment contract the employee had — the employer must give the employee:

  • a “work certificate” (certificat de travail), stating the name and details of the employer and employee, the start and end dates of employment, and the job or jobs performed,
  • a “full and final settlement” (solde de tout compte) detailing all sums paid to the employee on termination,
  • an official form giving various details of the employee’s employment, which the employee needs to claim unemployment benefits from the Pôle emploi public employment service.

Data Protection

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into force on May 25, 2018. It applies to any processing of personal data within the EU. The GDPR applies in France and employers must comply with its provisions when collecting and processing any personal data.

  • The GDPR set out the rights for data subjects, such as right to access, data erasure, data portability and consent.
  • Where data processors/controllers process operations which require regular and systematic monitoring of data subjects on a large scale or of special categories of data, a Data Protection Officer (DPO) must be appointed.
  • Data transfers outside of the EU are subject to additional requirements. Significant restriction on monitoring internet and e-mail use even when on company’s IT device.
  • The National Commission for Data Protection and Liberties (Commission Nationale de l‘Informatique et des Libertés (CNIL)) is responsible for the national application of the regulation and dealing with complaints.
  • Already during the recruitment and selection process, employers must comply with data protection law when collecting and processing personal data from and about candidates.

Employees’ data protection rights – Specific provisions aim to protect employees’ data. Employees have a right to:

  • See the information held on them.
  • Access the information.
  • Request the erasure of the information.
  • Restrict the processing of the information.
  • Request or restrict the portability of the information.
  • Object to the information being held.

Employers’ data protection obligations – Employers (as data controllers) need to follow six data protection principles when collecting, processing and storing employees’ personal data (Article 5, GDPR):

  • Ensure the lawfulness, fairness and transparency of the data.
  • Ensure the data use is limited only to the purpose for which the data was collected.
  • Minimise the amount of data collected to only that which is necessary.
  • Ensure the accuracy of the data.
  • Limit the data stored to only that which is required.
  • Ensure the integrity and confidentiality of the data.

Employers will be responsible and must be able to demonstrate compliance with, these principles on an ongoing basis and at any time (accountability). They must implement appropriate technical and organisational measures to ensure a level of security appropriate to the risk including:

  • Maintain a record of processing activities,
  • Designate, under certain circumstances, a Data Protection Officer,
  • Notify the employees and the Data Protection Authority (Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés (CNIL)) of any breach.

Except for religious bodies, political parties or unions, and without obtaining the relevant party’s prior written approval, it is prohibited to record or store personal data relating to:

  • Racial or ethnic origins.
  • Political, religious or philosophical opinions.
  • Union membership.
  • Medical information.
  • Sexual orientation.

Tax and Social Security

Deductions From Pay

The deduction or withholding of sums from an employee’s remuneration by the employer is strictly regulated and is permitted or required only in the following main cases.

  • The employer must deduct income tax due from employees’ pay at source and remit it to the tax authorities.
  • The employer must withhold employees’ contributions to social security and related schemes. These must be remitted, with the employers’ contributions, to the relevant social security bodies.
  • The employer can withhold the exact remuneration due for periods when the employee was absent from work without justification.
  • The employer can withhold sums in respect of money previously advanced to the employee for purposes such as purchasing materials, up to a limit of 10% of the employee’s due pay.
  • The employer can withhold sums in respect of overpayments of wages, within the limits that apply to the attachment of wages (see below).
  • The employer can withhold sums in respect of damage to work tools, equipment and materials but only if the damage was caused intentionally by the employee’s gross misconduct.
  • Where the employee owes money to a third party, and this creditor obtains a court order to attach part of the employee’s wages, the employer must withhold the relevant sum from the employee’s wages and remit it to the court. Only a certain proportion of an employee’s remuneration can be attached in this way, depending on the level of earnings and the employee’s family situation.

Personal Income Tax

From (EUR) To (EUR) Tax Rate %
0 10,064 0
10,064 25,659 11
25,659 73,369 30
73,369 157,806 41
157,806 No limit 45

Social Security

Category (and monthly ceiling) Employee Rate% Employer Rate%
Health, maternity, disability, death (total earnings) n/a 13 or 7
Autonomy solidarity contribution (CSA) (total earnings) n/a 0.3
Old-age insurance (with upper limit) (EUR3,428 per month) 6.9 8.55
Old-age insurance (total earnings) 0.4 1.9
Accidents at work (total earnings) n/a Variable
Family benefits (total earnings) n/a 5.25 or 3.45
Social security surcharge (CSG) (98.25% of gross salary) 9.2 n/a
Social security debt reimbursement contribution (CRDS) (98.25% of gross salary) 0.5 n/a
Unemployment (EUR13,712 per month) n/a 4.05
AGS (EUR13,712 per month) n/a 0.15
Supplementary Pension & CEG – Bracket 1 (EUR3,428 per month) 4.01 6.01
Supplementary Pension & CEG – Bracket 2 (from EUR3,428 to EUR27,424) 9.72 14.57

*The above rates serve as a broad guideline. Actual rates charged will differ.

Employees

Salary Payment

In general, wages may be paid in cash, by crossed cheque, or by transfer into a bank or postal account. However, cash payment may be used only if requested by the employee (if an employee so requests, the employer must comply) and applies only to the first €1500 of a month’s wages — the remainder must be paid by cheque or transfer.

In general, remuneration must be paid monthly, and the monthly amount must be independent of the number of days in the particular month (for example, the amount must not differ on the grounds that a month has 30 or 31 days). If an employee so requests, the employer must pay them an advance of 50% of the monthly remuneration halfway through the month. The monthly payment rule does not exclude different frequencies of payment for elements of remuneration such as bonuses and commission payments.

Payslip

Each time an employer pays wages to an employee, it must provide a payslip (bulletin de paie). If the employee does not object, the norm is that the employer provides the payslip in electronic format, but it must provide a paper payslip at the employee’s request. The employer must keep copies of employees’ payslips, in electronic or paper format, for at least five years.

The payslip must contain the following main information:

  • The employer’s name and address, and the establishment where the employee works.
  • The employer’s field of activity (referring to an official list of activities).
  • Where the employer is registered in the official national business directory, its registration number.
  • Where the employer is covered by an industry-level collective agreement, the name of this agreement — if the employer is not covered by such an agreement, the payslip must refer to the articles of the Labour Code that apply to the employee’s notice period and annual leave.
  • The employee’s name.
  • The employee’s job title and position in the applicable job classification scheme.
  • The pay period and the number of hours of work to which the payment of wages relates, distinguishing between hours paid at the normal rate and those paid at a higher rate (this higher rate must be specified) — special rules apply to the information to be provided on this point if the employee has an “All-in” working time agreement.
  • The nature and amount of any ancillary payments on which social security contributions are payable.
  • The gross remuneration for the pay period.
  • The amount of income tax deducted.
  • The amount of social security and related contributions paid by the employee and the employer, before deduction of any exemptions or rebates, and the rates of the various contributions.
  • The amount of any other deductions from or additions to pay, and their nature.
  • The net amount of remuneration received by the employee.
  • The payment date.
  • Details of any annual leave taken, and annual leave pay received during the pay period.
  • The amount of social security contributions paid, by scheme (health, retirement, family benefits, unemployment, and occupational accidents and diseases).
  • The total amount of any social security contribution exemptions or rebates.
  • The total amount paid by the employer — that is, the gross remuneration, plus the employer’s social security contributions (minus any exemptions or rebates).
  • A reference to the payslip information on the official www.service-public.fr website.
  • Advice that the employee should keep the payslip.

Timesheets and record keeping

In 2019, the European Court of Justice stated that companies must set up a system to record the working time of their employees. Thus, employers are obliged to implement an objective, reliable and accessible system that allows recording of the daily workday performed by each employee.

Annual Leave

The Labour Code provides that employees are entitled to at least 2.5 working days of paid annual leave for every 30 days of employment with the same employer, which results in an annual entitlement of 30 working days: there are deemed to be six working days per week, so the entitlement translates as five weeks. Employees with a child under the age of 15 (or a disabled child of any age) are entitled to two days’ extra leave per child in certain cases.

The following matters must be determined by a collective agreement (at company or establishment level or, failing this, at industry level) or, in the absence of such an agreement, by the employer, following consultation of the social and economic committee.

  • The dates of the “annual leave period”, during which employees must take a certain amount of their leave; this period must in all cases include May 1st – October 31st.
  • The schedule for employees to take their leave during the annual leave period, which must take into account issues such as employees’ family situation and length of service.

Employees can ask to take their leave at particular times, but the employer is not required to comply with such requests. Employees must be informed of their leave dates at least one month in advance.

Each year, employees must take one period of annual leave of at least two consecutive weeks during a certain period. A collective agreement (at company or establishment level or, failing this, at industry level) may determine this period, and also lay down rules on when employees may take the remainder of their annual leave. In the absence of such an agreement, the following rules apply.

  • Employees must take at least two consecutive weeks of leave between May 1st and October 31st.
  • Employees must take the remainder of their leave in one or more blocks between November 1st and April 30th.
  • Employees are entitled to one or two days of additional leave if they take three or more days of annual leave (except the fifth week of leave) outside the period between May 1st and October 31st.

An employee cannot generally take more than four consecutive weeks of leave. However, the employer can permit a longer period of leave in certain cases.

During annual leave, employees must receive holiday pay. This is calculated by whichever of the following two methods is more favourable to the employee:

  • 10% of the employees’ gross remuneration over the period from June 1st in the previous year to May 31st in the present year (i.e. in respect of the full five weeks of annual leave, employees receive one-tenth of their annual pay); or
  • the remuneration that the employee would have earned if they had worked during the annual leave.

Public Holidays

On May 1st, all employees must be given the day off work, without loss of pay, except in sectors where this is not possible, such as hospitality, hospitals and public transport. Employees who work on May 1st must receive double pay. In addition to May 1st, there are generally 10 other official national public holidays per year.

Adult employees do not have a statutory entitlement to a day off on these holidays. However, on the basis of a collective agreement or company practice, most employers give employees a day off on all or most public holidays. Employees under the age of 18 must be given a day off on all public holidays (though collective agreements may provide for exceptions in some industries, such as catering, hotels and some areas of retail).

With regard to public holidays apart from May 1st:

if employees are granted a day off, this must be without loss of pay, if the employee has at least three months’ service (a collective agreement may provide for more advantageous conditions for employees); and

  • if employees work, they have no statutory entitlement to an enhanced pay rate or time off in lieu, though an applicable collective agreement may deal with these matters.
  • If a public holiday falls on a day not normally worked, such as a Sunday, the employer is not required to observe the holiday later, for example on the next Monday.

Based on a collective agreement or company practice, it is common for employers to grant “bridge” days between a public holiday and the weekend (giving employees a longer period of consecutive time off). Whether or not employees are paid for these days, or have to make up the time off later, is determined by an applicable collective agreement or left to the employer’s discretion.

Employees must work without pay for one day (of seven hours) a year. Their wages for this “solidarity day” are used to fund measures to help vulnerable groups. The details of how this scheme is implemented should be determined in a collective agreement or, in the absence of such an agreement, by the employer, following consultation of the social and economic committee. Typically, this may involve employees working unpaid on a Saturday or public holiday (other than May 1st).

Sick Leave

An employee who is unable to work because of an illness or injury must notify the employer as soon as possible. The employee must then obtain a “work stoppage” medical certificate from a doctor and send this to the employer, usually within two days of the start of the sickness absence. The employee must also send the certificate to the relevant sickness insurance fund (CPAM) within two days.

After the first three days of a period of sickness absence, employees are entitled to receive daily sickness benefits (indemnités journalières (IJ)) from their CPAM if they meet eligibility requirements (in terms of employment or contribution history). Benefits are generally set at 50% of the employee’s basic pay, up to a cap. Eligible employees are generally entitled to no more than 360 days of benefits in any three-year period.

If an employee has at least one month’s service and is receiving sickness benefits from the CPAM, the employer is required to pay additional benefits after the first seven days of a period of sickness absence (an applicable collective agreement may provide for a shorter “waiting period”). These additional benefits top the CPAM benefits up to 90% of the employee’s gross remuneration, for a period of 30 to 90 days, depending on the employee’s length of service. After this period, the additional benefits top the CPAM benefits up to two-thirds of gross remuneration, again for a period of 30 to 90 days, depending on the employee’s length of service.

The employee’s employment contract is suspended during sickness absence. Special rules apply to occupational accidents and diseases

Maternity & Parental Leave

Maternity leave

Employees who are pregnant are required to take eight weeks of maternity leave (congé de maternité), including at least six weeks after the child’s birth. Furthermore, employees are entitled to take:

  • 16 weeks of maternity leave for a first or second child — 6 weeks before the birth and 10 weeks after
  • 26 weeks of maternity leave for a third or subsequent child — 8 weeks before the birth and 18 weeks after
  • 34 weeks of maternity leave in respect of giving birth to twins — 12 weeks before the birth and 22 weeks after
  • 46 weeks of maternity leave in respect of giving birth to triplets (or more) — 24 weeks before the birth and 22 weeks after.

With their physician’s consent, employees are entitled to reduce the antenatal part of their leave to as little as three weeks and add this untaken leave to the postnatal part of their leave. If an employee has an illness related to pregnancy or childbirth, her maternity leave may be increased by up to two weeks before the birth and four weeks after. If the birth is premature, the untaken portion of antenatal leave is generally added to the postnatal portion of the leave. If the birth is after the due date, the postnatal portion of the maternity leave is not reduced. If the child is stillborn or dies late in the pregnancy, the mother is still entitled to maternity leave. If the mother dies during maternity leave, the child’s father may take the remaining leave.

The employee must inform the employer in advance of her planned maternity leave and its start and end dates. During maternity leave, the employee’s employment contract is suspended, and the employer has no legal obligation to pay her. The employee is generally entitled (if she meets eligibility criteria) to receive earnings-related social security maternity benefits. Employers may supplement employees’ benefits during maternity leave, based on a collective agreement, the employment contract or company policy.

After maternity leave, employees return to their previous job, or a similar one, with at least equivalent remuneration. They must have a return-to-work interview to discuss matters such as any health-related adjustments that may be necessary to their job and are entitled to a meeting to discuss their career development.

Protection for women who are pregnant or have recently given birth

From the point where an employee is medically certified to be pregnant, the employer must not generally dismiss her. This protection lasts throughout the period during which the employee is entitled to take maternity leave (whether or not she uses her full entitlement), plus any period of paid annual leave immediately after maternity leave, and for 10 weeks after the end of the maternity leave or, where applicable, annual leave. The employer can terminate the contract during this protected period only if: the employee has committed serious misconduct unconnected to her pregnancy; or it is impossible to keep her in employment for reasons unrelated to her pregnancy or childbirth. Even in these cases, the employer cannot terminate the employee’s contract, or give notice of termination, during her maternity leave.

Employees who are pregnant, have recently given birth or are breastfeeding must not perform certain types of work that present particular risks for their health or safety, and the employer must offer them alternative work without loss of pay or, if this is not possible, place them on leave. Furthermore, a pregnant employee may be temporarily transferred to another job, without loss of pay, at her request or on the employer’s initiative, if it is medically certified that her state of health requires such a move.

Relevant employees are entitled to paid time off for antenatal and postnatal medical appointments.

Adoption leave

Employees are entitled to adoption leave (congé d‘adoption) if they adopt a child. If one adoptive parent takes leave, they are entitled to 10 weeks’ leave if they already have one child or fewer, or 18 weeks’ leave if they already have two or more children. If both adoptive parents take leave, they are entitled to share between them the same amount of leave as one parent would be entitled to, plus 11 days. In the event of the simultaneous adoption of two or more children: if one adoptive parent takes leave, they are entitled to 22 weeks’ leave (irrespective of how many children they already have); and if both adoptive parents take leave, they are entitled to share the 22 weeks, plus 18 days. Adoption leave starts on the day the child arrives in the family home, or up to one week earlier.

Adoption leave is governed by largely the same rules as maternity leave in areas such as: notification of the employer; suspension of the employment contract; dismissal protection; pay and benefits (qualifying employees receive the same social security benefit, which may be shared if both parents share the leave); and return to work (except for interviews and meetings).

Paternity leave

Employed fathers are entitled to take paternity leave (congé de paternité et d‘accueil de l‘enfant) on the occasion of their child’s birth. The right also applies to an employee (of either sex), other than the father, who is the spouse, civil partner or cohabitee of the child’s mother. The entitlement is to 11 consecutive calendar days of leave, or 18 days in the case of a multiple birth. The leave must generally start in the four months after the child’s birth. An employee who wants to take paternity leave must give the employer at least one month’s notice.

In cases where the child’s state of health requires their hospitalization immediately after birth in a specialist care unit, the father is entitled to parental leave for the duration of the hospitalization, though for no longer than 30 days.

Paternity leave is governed by largely the same rules as maternity leave in areas such as: suspension of the employment contract; pay and benefits (qualifying employees receive the same social security benefit); and return to work (except for interviews and meetings). Employees cannot be dismissed during paternity leave, except for serious misconduct or where it is impossible to continue with the employment contract for reasons not linked to the paternity leave.

Parental leave

Biological and adoptive parents are entitled to take parental leave (congé parental d’ éducation) if they have at least one year’s continuous service. The leave may start after the end of the mother’s maternity leave or the adoptive parent’s adoption leave. One of the parents may take the full allocation of parental leave, or the two parents may share it.

In the case of the birth of one child or twins, the initial period of parental leave is one year, which may then be renewed twice. The leave, including renewals, must end by the child’s third birthday, or the date the twins enter nursery school. In the case of the birth of triplets (or more), the initial one-year period of leave may be renewed up to five times and the leave must end by the children’s sixth birthday. The rules on the duration and renewal of parental leave in the case of adoption depend on the number of children and their age. In all cases, parental leave may be extended by up to one year if the child has a serious health problem or disability.

An employee who wants to take parental leave must give the employer notice of the planned start date and duration of the leave, of one or two months depending on the circumstances. If an employee wants to renew their parental leave (or switch to part-time work), they must give at least one month’s notice. Employees can generally return from leave before the planned date only with the employer’s agreement.

During parental leave, the employee’s employment contract is suspended, and the employer has no legal obligation to pay them. The employee may be entitled to receive income-related social security benefits, dependent on family situation, for all or part of the leave. Parents who share leave can receive additional benefits.

While on parental leave, and on their return to work, employees have certain entitlements to receive training from the employer, notably to keep them up to date with developments at work. After leave, employees return to their previous job, or a similar one, with at least equivalent remuneration. They are entitled to a meeting with the employer to discuss their career development.

Instead of taking full-time parental leave, as outlined above, relevant employees may opt to work part time (known as part-time parental leave). The same rules and conditions apply as for parental leave in terms of eligibility, sharing of leave, duration and renewal of the period of part-time work (the same as for leave), notification of the employer, and return to full-time work after leave. The employee and employer agree on the number of part-time hours to be worked (which must be at least 16 a week). The employee is paid as normal for hours worked and may be entitled to social security benefits for the remaining time.

Nursing care leave & Compassionate and Bereavement leave

The Labour Code provides for a wide variety of types of leave to provide care, deal with family and personal matters, and perform public or other duties. The table below summarises the main types of care and work-life balance leave. In most cases, detailed rules (not mentioned in the table) apply on matters such as applying for leave, suspension of contract, and returning to work.

Family events leave (congés pour événements familiaux)

Purpose; Time off for a range of family events — mainly deaths, births and marriages

Amount Of Leave;

  • Death of the employee’s child — 5 days
  • Employee’s marriage or civil partnership — 4 days
  • Birth or adoption of a child in the employee’s household — 3 days
  • Death of the employee’s spouse, civil partner, cohabitant, sibling, parent or parent-in-law — 3 days
  • Discovering that the employee’s child has a disability — 2 days
  • Marriage of the employee’s child — 1 day

Conditions;

  • The leave is paid.
  • No minimum qualifying length of service.

Parental presence leave (congé de présence parentale)

Purpose: Caring for a child under the age of 20 with a severe illness, injury or disability and major care needs

Amount of Leave: Up to 310 working days per child

Conditions;

  • The leave is not paid but the employee may be eligible for benefits.
  • No minimum qualifying length of service.
  • The employee takes the leave, as needed, as whole days off, over a period of up to 3 years, which may be extended (from September 2020, by agreement with the employer, the employee may take the leave in half-days or as a period of part-time work).

Sick child leave (congé pour enfant malade)

Purpose: Caring for a sick child under the age of 16 in the employee’s care

Amount of Leave: Generally a maximum of 3 days a year, but up to 5 days where the child is under the age of 1 or the employee has 3 or more children under 16

Conditions;

  • The leave is not paid.
  • No minimum qualifying length of service.

Family solidarity leave (congé de solidarité familiale)

Purpose: Helping a relative (a child, grandchild, parent, grandparent or sibling) or person sharing the same household who has a life-threatening illness, or is in the advanced or terminal phase of a serious and incurable illness

Amount of Leave: Unless a collective agreement provides otherwise, 3 months, renewable once

Conditions;

  • The leave is not paid but the employee may be eligible for benefits.
  • No minimum qualifying length of service.
  • The leave may be taken as a single period of total absence from work or, by agreement with the employer, the employee may split it into several shorter periods or take it as a period of part-time work

Close carer leave (congé de proche aidant)

Purpose: Caring for a relative or person with whom the employee lives in a couple, who has a severe disability or loss of independence (also available to care for some other elderly/disabled people)

Amount of Leave: Unless a collective agreement provides otherwise, 3 months, renewable

No more than 1 year in total during an employee’s career

Conditions;

  • The leave is not paid (but from September 2020 the employee may be eligible for benefits).
  • 1 years’ service required (this requirement will be dropped from September 2020).
  • The leave may be taken as a single period of total absence from work or, by agreement with the employer, the employee may split it into several shorter periods or take it as a period of part-time work.

Sabbatical leave (congé sabbatique)

Purpose: None specified

Amount of Leave: Unless a collective agreement provides otherwise, 6 to 11 months

Conditions;

  • The leave is not paid.
  • 36 months’ service (a collective agreement may vary this) and 6 years’ work experience required.
  • The employer may refuse or postpone the leave in some circumstances. After taking sabbatical leave, an employee cannot do so again for at least 6 years.

Benefits to the Employee in France

Statutory Benefits

By law, the employees are entitled to social security mandatory scheme coverage. The payment of mandatory social security contributions from the employee and the employer, withheld, monthly, from the employee’s pay slip, allows the employee to benefit from a minimum coverage for the following risks: sickness, maternity, welfare (i.e. invalidity and incapacity), unemployment, retirement and complementary retirement.

CBAs and/or employment contracts can provide for additional mandatory benefits (complementary welfare coverage for all employees, supra-complementary pension plan, etc.). CBAs can also provide for minimum benefits entitlements (minimum welfare contribution rates, insurance bodies to be affiliated to, etc.).

Other Benefits

Employees benefit from other rights resulting from the law (such as training) or from company agreements or customs and usages (such as additional pension scheme/health insurance/paid vacation, etc.).

Vocational training

1. Employer obligations:

  • Employers are required by the Labour Code to ensure that employees are adapted to their jobs, and to make efforts to maintain their capacity to remain in employment as jobs, technology and organisations change. These aims should be achieved through continuing vocational training during normal working hours, for which employees are paid as for normal work. Employees are obliged to participate in such training offered by the employer.
  • Every two years, the employer must arrange an “occupational interview” (entretien professionnel) with each employee to review their career prospects and relevant training.
  • Employers must pay an annual levy to fund continuing vocational training and apprenticeships.

2. Employee rights:

  • All employees are allocated a career-long “personal training account” (compte personnel de formation (CPF)), in which they build up entitlement to vocational training. The entitlement is expressed in cash terms and a certain sum of money is added to the CPF each year, up to a maximum balance. The basic amount paid in per year is €500 for most employees working at least 50% of normal full-time hours and additional amounts can be added by various means. Employees can use the money saved in the CPF to fund certain authorised types of training, when they so decide, either outside normal working hours or (usually with the employer’s permission) within normal hours.
  • Other employee entitlements in the training area include paid time off to develop a “skills balance sheet” (bilan de compétences) and training plan with a specialist provider; and gain a qualification that recognises their practical knowledge and skills (known as validation des acquis de l’expérience (VAE)).

Transportation

Where employees use public transport to travel between their home and place of work, the employer is obliged to meet part of the cost. Public transport includes buses, trains, metro systems, trams and public bicycle hire. The employer must reimburse part of the cost of season tickets — annual, monthly or weekly — but not one-off tickets. In general, the employer must reimburse 50% of the cost of second-class travel by the shortest route, monthly in arrears. In the case of part-time employees who work less than half of normal full-time hours, the reimbursement is proportional to their hours. The sum paid to the employee as reimbursement for public transport costs is not taxable.

Employers are not required to reimburse any of the fuel costs of employees who use their own private transport to travel between their home and place of work.

Visas and Foreign Workers

General Information

With the exception of citizens of other European Economic Area (EEA) countries (plus Switzerland and, until the end of 2020, the UK), foreign nationals generally require authorization to work in France. There are some exceptions, notably for workers posted temporarily to France by a service provider based elsewhere in the EU, and for foreign nationals entering France to work for no more than three months in certain fields. Employers are obliged to check the nationality of all recruits and, where relevant, ensure that they have the correct work authorization.

Where an employer wishes to employ a non-EEA national already resident in France, it must check before they start work that the individual has a valid residence permit that incorporates authorization to work (there is a range of such permits), or a separate work authorization document. At least two working days before the foreign national starts work, the employer must ask the local prefecture to authenticate their residence permit or other authorization document. If a non-EEA national resident in France has a residence permit that does not incorporate authorization to work, the prospective employer must seek such authorization from the regional Direccte employment authorities.

Before employing a non-EEA national who is not resident in France, an employer must first advertise the vacancy in France, generally through the Pôle emploi public placement service. Only if this is unsuccessful can the employer recruit abroad. This cannot be done directly but only through an official “introduction procedure”. The employer must identify the potential foreign employee and then submit an “introduction request” to the Direccte. This request must include information about the employer and foreign national concerned, along with a copy of the employment contract, proof of unsuccessful recruitment attempts in France, and the reasons for seeking to recruit the individual concerned. If the Direccte approves the request, it refers the matter to the French consulate in the country concerned and to the French Immigration and Integration Office (Office français de l’immigration et de l’intégration (OFII)), which organize the foreign national’s visa and authorization for work in France, along with a medical examination. There is a fast-track introduction procedure for recruitment to jobs where France has a shortage of suitably skilled labour (e.g. in the construction sector).

Public Holidays in 2022

S.No Occasion Date
1. New Year’s Day January 1st
2. Easter Monday April 18th
3. Labour Day May 1st
4. Victory of 1945 May 8th
5. Ascension Day May 26th
6. Whit Monday June 6th
7. Bastille Day July 14th
8. Assumption Day August 15th
9. All Saints’ Day November 1st
10. Armistice Day November 11st
11. Christmas Day December 25th
Only in Alsace-Moselle (in addition to the ones above): 
S.No Occasion Date
12. Good Friday April 15th
13. St Stephen’s Day December 26th

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