France Employment Contracts

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France Employment Contracts 

A successful business largely depends on its employees. By creating working contracts that include the right terms and benefits there will be no misconception and the perfect work-life balance can be created. At Bradford Jacobs, this is our aim, and we support companies in over a hundred countries with creating compliant and balanced labor contracts.

Our team in France keeps track of the French laws and regulations on a daily basis to be duly aware of updates that can be implemented in working contracts. By using our PEO and EOR service we can provide compliant labor contracts for employees in France including local benefits.

To support your plans, we made this guide including the basics of employment contracts in France. After reading this guide you will know everything about social security, notice periods, and the average working hours.

How do you hire France Employees?

Foreign companies hiring employees to support their expansion into France must comply with extensive tax and social insurance regulations. The framework of legislation is based on laws, codes, statutes, trade union and collective agreements that provide benefits, safeguards, and entitlements for employees.

In France the employer and employee relationship is mainly governed by the Civil Code, in which contract laws were amended in 2016, and the Labor Code. These cover working hours, paid vacations, discrimination, sick leave, termination, severance, notice periods, maternity, and paternity leave. When hiring and drawing up employee contracts all of these must be considered, as well as any collective agreements that also set down minimum guarantees and entitlements. Over 90% of French workers are covered by collective agreements.

Contracts in France are usually full-time and open-ended (contrat à durée indéterminée – CDI). In specific circumstances as allowed by the Labor Code employers may use other forms of contract, such as a fixed-term contract (contrat à durée déterminée – CDD).

Permanent contracts for full-time employment need not be written, though some collective agreements make this mandatory. Part-time contracts must be in writing. When written they must be in French as the legal reference (translations can be requested) and should include such information as – names and addresses of parties, job title and location, working hours, salary, paid leave, any probation period, notice period. They must be signed by both parties and any changes to the terms must be with the employees’ permission.

Employers must have a clear understanding of these obligations when hiring and drawing up contracts for their French employees. It is essential that the correct Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) is applied to the contract, at risk of punitive sanctions and fines.

Employment Contracts in France

There are a variety of contract types in France. The main types are:

  1. Open-ended, indefinite employment contract (contrat à durée indéterminée – CDI): This is the most common form of contract, giving full-time employees the security of long-term work with an agreement that is by definition indefinite. Permanent contracts are, by default, full-time. They can be terminated either by the employee resigning, by the employer dismissing them with just cause or economic reasons, or by mutual agreement. The employee need not give a specific reason for resigning but must give notice and continue to work as per their contract, unless mutually agreed otherwise.

  2. Fixed-term employment contract (contrat à durée déterminée – CDD): The Labor Code allows these only under specific circumstances. These include:

    - Replacing a full-time employee temporarily absent from work for such as illness or injury, maternity, or paternity leave, attending a training course or retirement. The end date of the contract should be given with the justification for the CDD
    - Increase in business activity due to demand
    - Seasonal work

    Maximum contracted duration between three and 24 months, or up to 36 months for ‘specific purpose’ or a ‘senior’ CDD for staff over 57 years old. A CDD can be renewed only twice, making a total of three CDDs. Failure to meet requirements for a CDD can see it automatically become a CDI.

Other types include:

  • Trial Period Contracts: Both CDIs and CDDs can begin with a trial or probationary period, usually varying between three and six months as contractually agreed.
  • Temporary / Agency Contracts: Similar to CDD but involving agency as the third party; usual maximum of 18 months with employee due end-of-contract 10% bonus of total gross salary. Employee is hired and paid by the agency.
  • Part-time Employment Contract: Can be a CDI or CDD for employees working fewer than 35 hours a week and not more than 1,607 annually. Part-time contracts must be in writing and include job title, remuneration, monthly or weekly payments and overtime limits
  • Youth Employment Contracts: 
    - The three-year Apprenticeship Contract for 16–25-year-olds towards obtaining a professional qualification, paid at between 28% and 78% of national minimum wage depending on age and year of apprenticeship
    - The professional training contract for unqualified 16–25-year-olds or those aged over 26 years needing professional training, for six to 21 months at between 55% and 85% of national minimum wage

Collective Agreements:

Individual employers, employer federations, trade unions and employer organizations are part of Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs) that lay the framework of employment terms and conditions for employees. They generally cover specific sectors or industries.

Foreign companies who do not have a legal entity in France but employ staff who are registered with social insurance and tax authorities, must still adhere to applicable collective agreements. Failure to comply risks fines and other sanctions that will compromise your business activity.

Compliance is mandatory if the agreement has been applied to the sector by the Ministry of Labor, or if the company is part of an employers’ organization that signed the agreement.

Collective agreements are binding on employers, regardless of the employer being a member of the organization that drew up the agreement or whether the employee is a union member. However, collective agreements can provide extra benefits not covered by employment law, affecting such as salary increases, extra holiday benefits, paid sick leave and minimum wages.

There are more than 300 collective agreements in France, where they are also known as national collective agreements (Conventions Collectives Nationales, CCN). Collective agreements generally enhance minimum requirements of the French Labor Code and in some cases introduce guarantees that are not covered by the Code. These agreements cover more than 90% of the workforce.

What Employment Laws exist in France?

French employment laws are based on a combination of the French Labor Code, Civil Code, and the Social Security Code with considerable influence from sector-specific agreements. These are known in France as national collective agreements (Conventions Collectives Nationales, CCN). There are over 300 such agreements and cover more than 90% of the workforce.

Collective bargaining agreements can introduce additional benefits and entitlements, but certain statutory minimums must apply to any contract. These include:

  • National Minimum Wage: This is €1,554.60 (US$1,830) per month or €18,655 (US$21,963) per year based on 12 payments annually.
  • Working Hours: These are generally 35 per week and should not exceed 44 on average over 12 weeks. The Labor Code stipulates that any weekly hours over 35, or 1,607, annually are overtime. Employees receive a minimum 20 minutes’ break after six hours work, with 11 hours’ unbroken rest between shifts and 35 continuous hours of rest every seven days.
  • Overtime: This applies after working 35 hours in a week, reimbursed at 25% above hourly rate for the first eight hours and 50% extra for subsequent hours.
  • Paid Annual Leave: Five weeks apply after completing one year of employment. Entitlement for working less than one year is usually covered by collective agreements. The reference year is from June 1 to May 31 with leave of two-and-a-half working days each month to a maximum of 30. Unused leave cannot be carried forward and employers who are sick during vacation cannot claim additional days. A maximum 24 days can be taken in one go.
  • Sick Leave: Employees incapacitated through illness or injury are entitled to daily payments from the social security system, with the employer legally required to make up the difference as stipulated by the Labor Code. Employees receive 90% of salary for the first 30 days, two-thirds for the next 30, with qualifying periods increased by 10 days for each five years or service. Benefit is paid from day one of incapacity for work-related illness or injury, or from the eighth day in other cases and cannot exceed 90 days in total.
  • Public Holidays: Labor Day on May 1 is the only mandatory public holiday in France, and employees who have to work that day receive twice their normal daily pay. There are another 10 statutory public holidays, but there is no mandatory right for employees to have extra time off if a public holiday falls on a Saturday, or to have the following Monday off if the holiday falls on a Sunday.
  • Maternity Leave: The allowance totals 16 weeks with at least 10 taken post-natal. Eight weeks is the mandatory minimum. Leave can increase to 26 weeks for a third child, 34 weeks for twins and 46 for triplets. Maternity benefit from social security equals average salary over the three months prior to birth (with a quarterly cap of €10,131, US$11,920) as long as the individual worked a minimum 150 hours over the previous three months.
  • Paternity Leave: This increased to 28 days from July 1, 2021, with the salary paid for three days by the employer and by social security for the remainder. Seven days are mandatory. The co-parent has up to six months to take the leave and must have worked at least 150 hours in the three months preceding leave to claim benefits. For multiple births, 32 days leave are allowed.
  • Severance Pay: Entitlement equals a quarter of monthly salary for each year’s service up to 10 years and one third for each subsequent year, if no collective agreement applies.
  • Notice Periods: These are generally governed by the French Labor Code and collective agreements, the latter particularly applying when employment is less than six months. Statutory notice is one month for between six months and two years’ service and two months for more than two years’ service.

How do you Onboard France Employees Internationally?

The most efficient and cost-effective method of onboarding employees into the French economy is through a global recruitment company such as Bradford Jacobs.

Transferring staff from abroad demands compliance with strict and protracted procedures to obtain visas and permits – a long and tedious process. Making mistakes risks sanctions, wasting time and money and with the likelihood the employee will not be allowed to start work, or even be promptly deported on arrival at the airport. In France, different rules apply to European Union and European Economic Area citizens, and those classed as being ‘Third Country’ nationals.

The alternative is to locate and recruit staff from within France. This takes a thorough knowledge of the employment market. And Bradford Jacobs has the knowledge to clear the way for your expansion.

Our Professional Employer Organization (PEO) and Employer of Record (EOR) solutions manage every stage of the process from finding the employee to seeing their first check is paid on time. The result? Your new employees are quickly operational as part of a team making their mark in your new territory.

Translating France Employment Contracts

Employees are entitled to ask for their contract to be translated into a language they understand, but contracts must be in French to be legally valid.

Tick all the boxes

Bradford Jacobs’ recruitment specialists will guide you and your employees through every step of onboarding into France. From talent acquisition to the complexities of employment legislation, payroll and tax, Bradford Jacobs ticks all the compliance boxes and ensures every aspect is contractually watertight.

The global reach of our Professional Employer Organization (PEO) recruitment platforms combined with the in-country knowledge of our Employer of Record (EOR) specialist teams guarantees a successful and smooth transition of your employees into your new territory - including onboarding plans, resources, and guides on local culture, customs, and business etiquette.

To learn more about our PEO and EOR packages, contact one of our sales specialists today.