Hire in France

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Last updated at November 28, 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 in Europe. With a total population of 67 million people, it is Europe’s most important agricultural producer and one of the world’s leading industrial powers. Paris, France’s capital and largest city, serves as the main cultural and commercial center.

Area

Bordering the Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean Sea, the Alps and the Pyrenees, France has long provided a geographic, economic and linguistic bridge between Northern Europe and Southern Europe. The country borders Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany to the northeast. To the east, France borders Switzerland, Monaco and Italy to the east. Andorra and Spain lie south of the country.

Climate

France has a mostly temperate climate with some regional differences. The country generally experiences cool winters and mild summers. One notable exception is Provence, Languedoc along the Mediterranean coast, where mild winters and hot summers are normal.

Culture

France has thousands of years of history and, as a result, a highly rich culture. It is synonymous with fundamental values to which the French are very attached: liberty, equality and fraternity. These principles inform the French legal system, 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. The country’s major religions include Christianity (mainly Catholic), which is observed by 47% of the population. Other religions include Islam (5%), Judaism (1%), Buddhism (1%). People with other religions comprise 5% of the population 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 Labor Code (‘Code du Travail’) provides a comprehensive framework for both individual and collective relationships between employers and employees. The Labor Code contains almost all statutory provisions related to individual and collective employment matters. It is continuously added to and amended as new laws, regulations and decrees are adopted. Case law interprets the Labor Code.

Individual employment contracts cover only those points not already dealt with in the Labor Code or in an applicable collective bargaining agreement (CBA).

CBAs (‘conventions collectives’) may be negotiated between employers and labor unions to cover a company or group of companies (‘accords d’entreprise’). They can also be negotiating between employers’ associations and labor unions to cover an industry as a whole. In the latter case, the government may decide the CBA covers even those employers who are not members of the employers’ association. This means the CBA is mandatory throughout the industry. Over 95% of employees in France are covered by CBAs, even in non-unionized industries. The rules in the Labor Code are supplemented by more generous rules in CBAs, covering areas such as paid leave, maternity leave, medical cover and even working time. 

Employee representatives play a very important role in CBAs. Depending on the size of a company, the employer may be required to have either employee delegates (‘délégués du personnel’) or a works council (‘comité d’entreprise’). An employer may also be required to have a health and safety committee (‘comité d’hygiène, de sécurité et des conditions de travail’).

The Social Security Code (‘Code de la Sécurité Sociale’) addresses issues such as benefits for employees on illness, maternity or paternity leave. The Penal Code (‘Code pénal’) is applicable in some areas, including non-discrimination and issues of health and safety.

Broadly speaking, the provisions t most advantageous to the employee apply when there is any disparity or conflict between the terms of the Labor Code, CBAs and the employment contract. The terms of company-level CBAs take precedence over those of industry-level CBAs, except in a small number of areas. This includes minimum pay rates. In a number of important areas, such as many aspects of working time and leave, the Labor Code establishes a core set of rules and leaves many other issues almost entirely to collective bargaining, primarily at company level. In these cases, there are back-up rules applying only in the absence of a CBA.

Employment Contract

By default, employment contracts under French law are set for an open-ended period. Although French law does not require an open-ended employment contract to be in writing, we strongly recommend a compliant contract in writing. The employee can also require the contract to be in writing. 

In any event, the employer must provide basic information related to the employment relationship in writing (e.g. name of the employer, date of hiring, job title, status, remuneration, working time, etc.). The list of required elements is established by French law. 

In strictly limited cases (e.g. replacement of an absent employee, exceptional increase of activity, etc.), employment contracts may be set for a fixed period. The fixed-term contract must be written and include specific details (e.g. reason for using a fixed-term contract). If the contract fails to contain these details, the contract will be recognized as an open-ended employment contract. 

When written, an employment contract must be in French. Its main terms (e.g. related to compensation, 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 (‘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 given the option. Moreover, the CDI format is generally viewed as the standard (or normal) form of employment contract in France. The employer is therefore required to use this type of contract except in circumstances where they can justify 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 factored into 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 Labor Code.

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

Fixed Term Contracts

A CDD cannot be used to fill a position that relates to the company’s “normal and permanent” activity on a long-term basis. A CDD may be used only for the performance of a precise and temporary task. It is applicable specifically to cover work in the following situations:

  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 a company manager. 
  6. Recruitment under the applicable employment policy (professional training and apprenticeship contracts, seniors’ contract, etc.)
  7. A defined-objective and 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 outlined 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. The contract must be given to the employee within two days of being hired and must include certain details such as the 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 be deemed a permanent contract. The employer is also liable in this case for a fine of €3,750.

During the 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, etc.

Duration of the fixed-term contract: The fixed-term contract can be signed with a few different options for duration:

  1. Date to date: In this case, the contract has a maximum duration of 18 months. This includes renewal. It 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 is required to specify a minimum duration.

The fixed-term contract will automatically expire at the end of the term expressed in the contract. Upon the completion of the contract, the employee receives: 

  • An indemnity amounting to 10% of the total gross remuneration paid during the contract, provided no indefinite-term contract of employment is agreed to at the end of it.
  • A compensatory allowance of paid leave, irrespective of the length of the contract.
  • If the working relationship continues following the set term, it becomes a permanent 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. It can also be terminated if the employee can provide proof that he or she was hired under a permanent contract.

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 required to pay damages to the employer for losses experienced by the company.

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 with a duration of longer 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 CBA.

Notice of Hiring - Declaration of employment and relation affiliations

The employer is required to declare any employee it hires to the local competent Social Security Authorities office (‘URSSAF’) within the eight-day period before the commencement of work. This happens by the way of a declaration of employment process (‘Déclaration préalable à l’embauche’ or DPAE). URSSAF is the authority which receives the social security mandatory contributions, which are paid by the employer and the employee. 

The DPAE also enables the employee’s registration and affiliation with occupational medical services (‘Service medical du travail’) and the unemployment fund (‘Pôle emploi’). They also organize the first mandatory medical examination. 

The employer is also required to affiliate the employee to the mandatory complementary retirement funds, determined by the employee’s status (e.g. 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 incurred.

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’ or 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. It provides information on risks and prevention. It also assesses if a more extensive medical examination is required. 

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

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

Probation Period

The Labor Code allows for probationary periods to enable the employer to assess the employee’s competence. This period also lets the employee assess whether the job suits them. 

Indefinite-term employment contracts may allow maximum probationary periods 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 can be extended on time, up to a maximum of double the original duration. This practice is only allowed if an applicable industry-wide CBA permits it. The fact there will be a probationary period must be stated in the employment contract or letter of engagement. This part must specify the length of the period and, where relevant, the possibility the period may be extended.

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

  • 24 hours during the initial seven days of the probationary period
  • 48 hours during the remainder 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 decides to terminate the employment during the first seven days of a probationary period, they must offer 24 hours’ notice. Thereafter, during the rest of the probationary period, the employee must give 48 hours’ notice.

Fixed-term employment contracts may also allow for a probationary period. This practice is subject to special rules. The statutory maximum duration is one day per week up to a limit of two weeks for a fixed-term contract of six months or less. For a fixed-term contract of more than six months, it is a one month maximum probationary period. 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 specific or set term, the trial period is calculated based on the minimum duration of the contract.

Working hours

For full-time employees, the Labor Code sets normal working time at 35 hours per week. An applicable CBA may provide for different normal weekly hours. Any hours worked beyond the 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. This includes overtime. However, a CBA (at a company or at industry level) may increase maximum daily working time to as much as 12 hours for reasons related to the company’s operations or to meet increased activity. The 10-hour day may also be exceeded in emergencies or if authorized by the Labor 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 or more than 44 hours on average over a 12-week period. These figures include overtime. The Labor Inspectorate may authorize a working week of up to 60 hours in exceptional circumstances. Furthermore, a CBA (at a company or at industry level) may provide for employees to work up to 46 hours on average over a 12-week period. In the absence of a CBA, the Labor Inspectorate may authorise this arrangement.

The above rules apply to adult employees. The Labor 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. Managing executives are deemed the most senior managers in a company.

Overtime

In principle, any hours performed by full-time employees beyond 35 hours in a week are regarded as overtime. Performing such work will generally entitle the employee to a pay supplement. If the pay supplement is stipulated by a CBA (at a company or at industry level), it must be at least 10% on top of the employee’s normal rate. In the absence of a CBA, the Labor Code sets the supplement at 25% for the first eight hours of overtime in a week. It is set at 50% for any subsequent hours. Employees may be compensated for overtime with time off rather than a pay supplement, if a CBA (at the company or industry level) provides for it,  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 and 15 minutes of time off).

Employees have an individual overtime quota. This is set at 220 hours a year unless a CBA (at a company or at industry level) provides for a different quota. The employer can make overtime work mandatory. However, this is subject to an annual quota. Employees cannot refuse a reasonable request. Any overtime hours for which an employee has been compensated in time off do not count towards the annual quota.

The rules on compensation for overtime apply only to overtime hours up to the annual quota. If an employee performs overtime work beyond the annual quota, the compensation must be granted in time off. This is provided at a rate of 100% in companies with 20 or more employees and 50% in smaller companies. A CBA may provide for higher rates. 

In addition, for certain categories of employees (e.g. mainly executives), if expressly allowed by a CBA or company agreement, employees can work on the basis of a maximum number of days per year. This is set at 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 (‘Reduction du temps de travail’ or RTT). Whatever the working time system, the employer and the employees should comply with the working hours limitations. This can mean 10 hours per day, 48 hours per week and 44 hours on average over a 12-week period. This is also subject to more restrictive limitations provided in any CBA.

Bonus

It is common practice in France 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.

  1. 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 have to share the employer’s risk. 
  • The employee’s salary must not be less than either of the following: the statutory minimum wage or the minimum salary set by a relevant Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

Some CBAs require 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 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

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

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

Suspension of the employment contract means, on a temporary basis, the employee is not required to work. The employer is not required to compensate the employee during this time but the contract is not terminated. However, in the case of sick leave, the employer is required to pay the employee to the extent required by the Labor Code or an applicable CBA. Further, in cases like maternity, paternity and parental leave, employees are generally entitled to receive social security benefits. This is 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. For example, they cannot work for another employer. When the period of suspension is completed, the employee must return to their previous job or a similar position relating to their skills. They are entitled to at least the same remuneration as before the suspension.

Notice Period

The Labor 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. This applies after the end of any probationary period. The minimum notice period starts at one month. This increases to two months after two years’ service. During the first six months of service, the notice period is set by an applicable CBA, employment contracts or the regular 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 CBAs but the notice period is generally between one and three months. Shortened periods may be negotiated between the parties and some CBAs 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. By request of the employee, the employer may agree to dispense all or part of the notice period. In this 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

An employer can dismiss an employee under an indefinite-term employment contract for either of the following: 

  1. Personal reasons
  2. Economic reasons.

Varying rules and procedures apply to these two types of dismissal. During the probationary period, the general rules on dismissal do not apply.

Employee representatives (e.g. trade union delegates and representatives who serve on social and economic committees) are granted special protections from dismissal.

  1. Personal reasons

A dismissal for personal reasons may relate to matters such as the employee’s conduct, incapacity, lack of competence, lack of 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. This must be a cause based on facts, precise, verifiable and important enough to justify terminating the contract. The Labor Code specifies 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, maternity, political opinions or trade union membership or activities. It also includes the employee having undergone, or refused to undergo, sexual or psychological harassment, or having witnessed or reported such harassment. The following also apply:

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

Matters relating to an employee’s private life will not be deemed a real and serious cause for dismissal unless they objectively cause disruption or encompass 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 justify a 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 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 it was committed with the intention of damaging the employer. Examples include preventing non-strikers from working or using violence amid a strike. Disloyal competition with the employer is also included. 

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 the reasons for considering dismissal and ask the employee for an explanation. The employee may be accompanied by another company employee of their choice. If there are no employee representatives in the company, they can be accompanied 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 to announce and give 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.

A dismissal on grounds of employee misconduct cannot occur unless the proper disciplinary procedure has been followed. No notice is required in the case of dismissal for serious or gross misconduct. The contract instead 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 only possible in cases where the employee’s illness or injury makes them incapable of work or disrupts the operation of the company and requires the hiring of a permanent replacement. In a case where an employee becomes incapacitated, the employer must follow a process involving attempts to identify suitable alternative work and advice from the occupational physician.

  1. Economic reasons

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

  • economic difficulties (the Labor Code sets out detailed criteria for what constitutes such difficulties)
  • technological change
  • a restructuring of the company (which 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 adhere to an order of selection for dismissal. This is based on specific criteria, including family responsibilities, length of service, challenges in securing a new job (e.g. because of age of disability), occupational attributes and aptitudes.

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

  1. an individual dismissal on economic grounds

or 

  1. two or more such dismissals (Collective Economic Dismissals)
  2. 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 must not be sent until at least seven working days following the interview (15 days for 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 scheme aims to help 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 the employees and the proposed criteria for selecting who is to be dismissed 
  • the total number of employees working at the establishment
  • the planned schedule for the dismissals

The committee has one month to offer an 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.

  1. Collective economic dismissals – 10 or more dismissals

In companies with less than 50 employees, there are special rules if the employer envisages dismissing 10 or more employees for economic reasons over a 30-day period. It is required to consult the social and economic committee and provide the same information required in the case of two to nine economic dismissals. The consultation process must engage at least two meetings of the committee, separated by no more than 14 days between them. 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 no sooner than 30 days following this notification. There is generally no requirement to conduct individual interviews with each employee.

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. An absence alone is not enough for the employer to assume the employee has resigned from their position. Hence, the employee must let the employer know (orally or in writing) of their intention to resign. If an employee resigns due to pressure from the employer (as opposed to their own free will), an employment tribunal may regard this as  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 Labor Code but left to the employment contract, an applicable collective agreement, or custom and practice. The regulations on dispensing with the notice period )and payment in lieu of notice) are the same as 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’) outlined in the Labor Code. This form of termination stems from the mutual consent of the parties. It can be annulled by an employment tribunal if, for instance, it finds the employer placed undue pressure on the employee to agree to the termination. The procedure is as follows:

  • The employer and employee must meet at least one time to agree on the terms of termination. The employee can be accompanied at this meeting by another company employee. Where there are no employee representatives within the company, they can have an external “employee advisor” join them. 
  • Both parties must sign an agreed-termination agreement, which must specify the date of termination and the compensation payment for the employee. This compensation is a mandatory feature of an agreed termination. It must at least equal the severance payment the employee would receive if they were dismissed.
  • In the 15 calendar days following the conclusion of the agreement, either the employee or employer can retract their consent.
  • The employer or employee must submit the signed agreement to the ‘Direccte’ regional employment authorities so it can be approved or rejected. The agreement is not deemed valid until it is approved.

The Labor 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 file a claim before an employment tribunal (‘conseil de prud‘hommes’). The employee can claim their 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 (such as discrimination). If the tribunal finds 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 wish to be reinstated (or if reinstatement is impossible), the tribunal will instead require the employer to pay compensation of at least six months’ pay. There is no upper limit on this amount. The employer will also have to offer any termination-related payment the employee may be entitled to.

An unjustified dismissal (‘licenciement injustifié’) occurs in cases where that is no “real and serious” cause for the termination. 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 increases in stages. This ranges 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. For firms with 11 or more employees, it ranges from one month’s pay after one year of service to three months’ pay after two years’ service. 

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 adhere to the various information gathering, consultation and notification procedures that apply to collective economic dismissals, employees can seek compensation at an employment tribunal if they believe they have suffered damages.

Post Termination Restraints

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

Non-competes are allowed if five conditions are met. The restrictive covenant must:

  • Be essential for protecting 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 – There is no legal requirement for financial compensation. However, 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 are generally allowed freely.

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 Labor 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 compensation for any unused annual holiday entitlement they have earned. 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 an employment relationship ends — whatever the reason for termination and whatever type of employment contract the employee had — the employer must provide the employee with:

  • a “work certificate” (‘certificat de travail’), stating the name and details of the employer and employee, the start and end dates of employment as well as 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 outlining various details of the employee’s employment, which the employee will need to claim unemployment benefits from the ‘Pôle emploi’ public employment service.

Data Protection

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

  • The GDPR set out the rights for data subjects, such as right to access, data erasure, data portability and consent.
  • A Data Protection Officer (DPO) must be appointed in cases where data processors/controllers process operations require regular and systematic monitoring of data subjects on a large scale or of special categories of data, 
  • Data transfers outside of the EU are subject to additional requirements. Significant restriction on monitoring internet and e-mail use even when on a 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.
  • 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 collected 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 is entitled to withhold the exact remuneration due for periods the employee was absent without justification.
  • The employer can withhold sums in respect to payments previously advanced to the employee for purposes such as purchasing materials. This is subject to a limit of 10% of the employee’s due pay.
  • The employer can withhold sums in respect to the overpayments of wages, within the limits that apply to the attachment of wages (see below).
  • The employer can withhold sums to cover damage to work tools, equipment and materials. This applies only if the damage was intentionally caused by the employee’s gross misconduct.
  • If the employee owes money to a third party and this creditor has a court order to garnish part of the employee’s wages, the employer must withhold the relevant sum from the employee’s wages. This should be remitted 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 by GoGlobal will differ.

Employees

Salary Payment

In general, wages may be paid in cash, by crossed check 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 check or transfer.

In general, remuneration must be paid monthly. 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 have the following information:

  • The employer’s name and address
  • The name of the establishment where the employee works
  • The employer’s field of work (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 Labor Code that apply to the employee’s notice period and annual leave)
  • The employee’s name
  • The employee’s job title and position (according to the applicable job classification scheme)
  • The pay period and the total hours worked related to the payment of wages (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 details to be provided on this point if the employee is engaged under “all-in” working time agreement.)
  • The details 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 (those paid by the employee and the employer – before deduction of any exemptions or rebates – as well as the rates of the various contributions)
  • Details on any other deductions or additions
  • The net amount of remuneration the employee received
  • The payment date
  • Details of any annual leave used and the annual leave pay received in the pay period
  • Details of any 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 the employer has paid (the gross remuneration, plus the employer’s social security contributions minus exemptions or rebates)
  • A reference to the payslip information on the official authority website: www.service-public.fr
  • Advice to the employee to keep the payslip on record

Timesheets and record keeping

In 2019, the European Court of Justice stated that companies must implement an objective, reliable and accessible system that allows recording of the daily workday performed by each employee.

Annual Leave

The Labor 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 25 working days; there are deemed to be six working days per week, the entitlement amounts to 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 dealt with by a collective agreement (at company or establishment level or, failing this, at industry level). In the absence of such an agreement, the matter will be determined by the employer after consulting the social and economic committee.

  • The timeline of the annual leave period, during which employees must take a certain amount of their leave time. In all cases, this period must include May 1 to October 31. 
  • The timeline for employees to take their leave during the annual leave period. This must account for issues such as employees’ family situation and the length of service.

Employees can request to take their leave at particular times. However, the employer is not required to honor such requests. Employers must inform employees of their leave dates at least one month in advance.

Employees must take one period of annual leave yearly. This must be for at least two consecutive weeks during a certain period. A collective agreement (at the company or establishment level or at the industry level) may set this period. Such an agreement can also lay down rules on when employees may take the remainder of their annual leave. In the absence of such an agreement, the following provisions apply.

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

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

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

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

Public Holidays

On May 1, all employees must be given the day off work (without loss of pay) except in sectors where this is not possible. This includes hospitality, hospitals and public transport. Employees who work on May 1 are entitled to receive double pay. In addition to May 1, 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 below the age of 18 must be granted a day off on all public holidays (though collective agreements may specify exceptions in some industries, including catering, hotels and some areas of retail).

There are special rules regarding public holidays apart from May 1. If employees are granted a day off, this must be without loss of pay. This applies 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 are not entitled to an enhanced pay rate or time off in lieu. However, an applicable collective agreement may address 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 at a later time. This means the holiday does not need to be observed 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. This gives employees a longer period of consecutive time off. An applicable collective agreement will determine whether or not employees will be compensated for these days or if they will have to make up the time off later. In absence of such an agreement, the matter is left to the employer’s discretion.

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

Sick Leave

An employee who cannot work due to 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. This is determined by employment or contribution history. Benefits are generally set at 50% of the employee’s basic pay, up to a cap. Generally, eligible employees will be entitled to receive 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 must pay additional benefits following 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. This period will depend on the employee’s length of service. After this period, the additional benefits top the CPAM benefits up to two-thirds of gross remuneration. This again applies 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 — six weeks before the birth and 10 weeks after
  • 26 weeks of maternity leave for a third or subsequent child — eight 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 consent of their physician, an employee is entitled to reduce the antenatal part of their leave to as little as three weeks. Instead, they can 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. In the case of a premature, the untaken portion of antenatal leave is usually added to the postnatal portion of the leave. If the birth is later than the due date, the postnatal portion of the maternity leave will not be 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 let the employer know in advance of her planned maternity leave, specifying the 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 usually entitled (bearing she meets eligibility criteria) to 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.

Following maternity leave, employees return to their previous role (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 persists throughout the period during which the employee is eligible to take maternity leave. This applies whether or not she uses her full entitlement. This protection applies to 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 will only be able to terminate the contract during this protected period only if the employee commits a serious misconduct unconnected to her pregnancy or if it is impossible to employer her reasons unrelated to the pregnancy or birth. 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. The employer must offer them alternative work without loss of pay. If this is not possible, the employer must place them on leave. Furthermore, a pregnant employee can be temporarily transferred to another job without loss of compensation. This can happen either at her request or on the employer’s initiative. This applies if there is a medical certification confirming that her state of health requires such a move.

Eligible employees have a right to paid time off for antenatal and postnatal medical appointments.

Adoption leave

Employees have a right to adoption leave (‘congé d‘adoption’) in the event they adopt a child. If one adoptive parent takes adoption leave, they will be entitled to 10 weeks’ leave if they already have one child or fewer. This will be 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. Following the simultaneous adoption of two or more children, if one adoptive parent takes leave, they are entitled to 22 weeks’ leave This applies irrespective of how many children they already have. If both adoptive parents take leave, they will have the right to share the 22 weeks. They also get an additional 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, benefits and return to work (except for interviews and meetings). Eligible employees are entitled to the same social security benefit, which may be shared if both parents share the leave.

Paternity leave

Employed fathers have a right to 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 for 11 consecutive calendar days of leave or 18 days in the event 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. This applies 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, dismissal protection, pay, benefits 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 can 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 the renewal periods, must be completed by the child’s third birthday or by the date the children 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 are contingent on the number of children and their ages. 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 wishes to take parental leave must offer the employer notice of the planned start date and duration of the leave. This leave period will be for 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. The employer is not required 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. This is intended to keep them up to date with developments at work. Following the leave period, employees return to their previous role (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. This is 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 will agree on the total part-time hours to be performed (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 Labor Code provides for a wide variety of types of leave to provide care, deal with family issues, personal matters and perform public or other duties. In most cases, detailed rules apply on issues 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 — five days
  • Employee’s marriage or civil partnership — four days
  • Birth or adoption of a child in the employee’s household — three days
  • Death of the employee’s spouse, civil partner, cohabitant, sibling, parent or parent-in-law — three days
  • Discovering that the employee’s child has a disability — two days
  • Marriage of the employee’s child — one day

Conditions;

  • The leave is paid. 
  • There is no minimum length of service to qualify.

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 to receive benefits.
  • There is no minimum length of service to qualify. 
  • The employee takes the leave, as needed, as whole days off, over a period of up to three years, which may be extended (if the employer agrees to it, the employee can 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 three days a year, but up to five days where the child is under the age of 1 or the employee has three or more children under 16.

Conditions;

  • The leave is not paid.
  • There is no minimum length of service to qualify.

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/terminal phase of a serious and incurable illness

Amount of Leave: Unless a collective agreement provides otherwise, this leave is granted for three months. It can be renewed once.

Conditions;

  • The leave is not paid but the employee may be eligible for benefits.
  • There is no minimum qualifying length of service.
  • The leave can be used as a single period of total absence from work. If the employer agrees, the employee may split it into several shorter periods. It can also be taken 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, this period is for three months. It is renewable. It can be granted for no more than one year in total during an employee’s career

Conditions; 

  • The leave is not paid (but the employee may be eligible for benefits).
  • One years’ service is required.
  • 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. It can also be taken as a period of part-time work.

Sabbatical leave (congé sabbatique)

Purpose: None specified

Amount of Leave: This leave is granted from six to 11 months, unless a collective agreement provides otherwise.

Conditions;

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

Benefits to the Employee in France

Statutory Benefits

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

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

Other Benefits

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

Vocational training

  1. Employer obligations:
  • Employers are required by the Labor Code to ensure employees are adapted to their jobs, taking measures to maintain their capacity to remain in employment as jobs, technology and organization 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 required to participate in such training opportunities provided 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 are required to pay an annual levy to fund continuing vocational training and apprenticeships for employees. 
  1. Employee rights:
  • All employees in France are allocated a career-long “personal training account” (‘compte personnel de formation’ – CPF). Through this account, the employee builds 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 contributed 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 authorized types of training when they so decide (either outside normal working hours, usually with the employer’s permission, or within normal hours). 
  • Additional entitlements in the area of training include paid time off to develop a “skills balance sheet” (‘bilan de compétences’), time of for training with a specialist provider and time off to gain a qualification that recognizes their practical knowledge and skills (‘validation des acquis de l’expérience’ – VAE).

Transportation

If an employee uses public transport to travel between their home and place of work, the employer must cover 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. This includes 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), foreign nationals generally require authorization to work in France. There are some exceptions, including for workers sent temporarily to France by a service provider based elsewhere in the EU. Exemptions also apply to foreign nationals entering France to work for no more than three months in certain fields. Employers must check the nationality of all recruits and, where relevant, ensure they have the correct work authorization.

If an employer wishes to employ a non-EEA national already resident in France, it must confirm the individual has a valid residence permit that incorporates authorization to work 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.

Prior to employing a non-EEA national who is not resident in France, an employer must first advertise the job opening in France. This is done through the ‘Pôle emploi’ public placement service. Only if this is unsuccessful can the employer recruit abroad. This cannot be done directly but 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 the foreign national, 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). These entities 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 labor (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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